Every now and then I see an advertising campaign that really takes me by surprise and compels me to gush over it publicly. While I suppose there is no particular recipe for the campaigns that really draw me in, I have noticed a strong emotional component and a conscious effort to sell the company, rather than the company’s products. A prime example is the Chevy Run’s Deep campaign from several years ago that included the blank check commercial; a commercial I still can’t watch without getting chills.
Into the fold jumps Dick’s Sporting Goods with it’s Sports Matter campaign. The campaign includes several one minute long commercials which do a great job of demonstrating exactly why sports matter. One shows a high school baseball player coping with the death of his grandfather. One shows a high school lacrosse player using sports as a respite from her demanding life chock full of adult responsibilities. And another shows a high school basketball player learning how to be a better teammate and not such an a-hole. It seems that the contemporary public perception of sports is set by professional sports and “big money” NCAA events. But those things do not represent the true value of sports. Having been fortunate enough to participate in sports at both the high school and Division II college level, I can confidently say that these commercials do as good of a job as you can do in one minute demonstrating why sports (an activity that Dick’s happens to sell products for) are important to the development of young people. Sports at that level (i.e. where 99.5% of athletes participate) are not about fame and dollars. They’re about self-improvement, friendship, dedication, and perseverance; all things that are transferable to other aspects of life.
I think this is an ingenious campagain. Sports as a whole kind of has an image problem right now with overpaid athletes repeatedly getting themselves into legal trouble, the NFL concussion scandal, PED’s, and many other things that I can’t rattle off right now. Rather than going down the tired old road of athlete endorsements, Dicks’ takes a different tack and shoots for the heart and soul of the ordinary athlete. Although I’ve watched a lot of TV commercials, I’m having difficulty recalling anything that captures the spirit of sport as well as this campaign. I think the closest was probably the “find your greatness” campaign by Nike which included this gem. But that’s still a level below what Dick’s is doing right now.