Back in January, Dick’s Sporting Goods (DSG) announced its sponsorship of Team USA for the upcoming 2016 Rio Summer Games, which includes an initiative that employs almost 200 athletes from 35 different Olympic and Paralympic sports in 89 of its stores in 32 states across the country. Now the brand has unveiled its first Olympic ad, by directing duo The Mercadantes, starring a handful of those Olympic hopefuls who moonlight as employees.
The campaign, created by agency Anomaly New York, is a direct extension of the successful formula the brand has used over the last few years, tapping amateur sports to tell compelling stories.
Chief marketing officer Lauren Hobart says the brand has long focused on the struggle and success of the amateur athlete–through content like its Hell Week series and We Could Be King doc–and there is no better example of that than Team USA contenders who work to get to the Games.
“For every well-known athlete with lucrative endorsement deals, there are hundreds who are struggling to pay for equipment, pay for trainers, and make ends meet for their families, and I don’t think that’s something many people are aware of when it comes to Olympic hopefuls,” says Hobart. “It’s an incredible struggle, and it’s a big part of our values to help them on that journey by providing them with flexible work hours, competitive wages, and help them make ends meet. On the flipside, it’s great for our customers to come into a store and meet a member of Team USA. It’s just a great fit for our company.”
Both the sponsorship and the ad are bang on brand for DSG, tying perfectly into its focus on amateur athletes and the knowledge that, yes, the bulk of us only care about sports like javelin or gymnastics every four years, but these athletes are inspiring people who walk and work among us. Going beyond a straight up sponsorship to include the employee program simply adds weight and–overused word alert–authenticity to the brand’s overall message.