2022 Winner

Décathlon Canada

Ability Signs


Grand Prix

GoldBudget-Savvy Strategy

GoldCreative Catalyst

GoldDEI Strategy

SilverSocial/Conversational Strategy

With over 1,700 stores in 60 countries, Decathlon is the largest sports retailer in the world. And since its creation in 1976, the retailer has been committed to making sports and their benefits accessible to everyone. Over the years, Decathlon has built its success through affordable prices, innovative products, passionate employees, and experiential stores.

However, despite its iconic status internationally, Decathlon has remained a relatively unknown brand in Canada, where it has only been present since 2018. Since Decathlon was about to open its tenth store in the country in 2021, the retailer wanted to boost its fame while making its commitment to the
democratization of sport known.

Their market was already heavily populated by established players with much larger marketing budgets, such as Sports Experts in Quebec or Sport Chek in the rest of Canada. It was also ingrained in Decathlon’s culture to favour grassroots initiatives over mass media-heavy campaigns.

To break through, they had to find a strong and cost-effective initiative that reflected their mission to make sports more accessible. And to compensate for their considerably smaller resources, this initiative had to be buzz-worthy enough to be amplified by the media and the general public.

The International Symbol of Access, one of the most recognized signs in the world, only reflects the limitations of people with disabilities. To change the way we look at people with disabilities, Decathlon reimagined the universal accessibility symbol to spotlight what they can do rather than what they can't.

Although this initiative came from Decathlon, the intention of the campaign was to create a true grassroots movement that would go beyond the brand's ecosystem. Thus, the campaign should not simply communicate the brand's commitment, but also invite citizens, institutions, and companies to follow suit.

Using Decathlon’s existing retail signage system, the agency designed 25 custom symbols representing different sports (tennis, volleyball, hockey, archery, etc.) and made them freely available to everyone
under the Creative Commons license.

The campaign, launched in October 2021, included a first use/integration of symbols at the Decathlon store in Laval, both for interior signage (bathrooms, categorization of sports) and exterior (signs and parking lot marking). It also included a video launching the initiative posted on the brand's social platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) and a website (abilitysigns.ca) explaining the initiative and proposing
to download and use the symbols.

A suite of Giphy stickers was designed to let people alter the accessibility icons virtually on Instagram. The campaign was integrated into the company's newsletter, which reaches thousands of brand followers. A press relations campaign targeted the sports and news media, as well as some influential personalities
from the sports world.

Despite a very limited investment ($15,000), the initiative was a resounding success, not only in Canada but also internationally, where it captured the attention of many influential figures in the sports world.

In the four weeks following the launch, Ability Signs garnered over 227M organic and media impressions. Several major media covered the news, including La Presse, TVA, and CBC in Canada, and Le Parisien, Démotivateur, and Trendwatching internationally. The Decathlon spokesperson's LinkedIn post garnered almost 30,000 interactions alone.

The website generated 5k visitors and nearly 2k icon downloads. The Giphy stickers suite generated
600k impressions on Instagram.

Several organizations and businesses have followed suit and expressed their interest in deploying the symbols in their locations, including the Collège Brébeuf, the Complexe Bell, the Centre du Sablon, the Parc-Extension borough in Montreal, and the Ford Performance Centre in Toronto (Maple Leafs’ practice facility). The Stade de France in Paris also incorporated the Ability Signs, while the French Olympic Committee soon announced its intention to use the symbols for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

They didn’t just stand out in their category despite a significantly lower budget: they also started a global movement to change the way we look at people with disabilities.

Chief Creative Officer: Aaron Starkman
Executive Creative Director: Mike Dubrick, Nicolas Quintal
Creative Director: Maxime Saute, Xavier Blais
Creative Catalyst Chief Strategy Officer: Sean McDonald
Art Director: Rachel Leblanc, Ryan Cookish, Maxime Sauté
Writer: Xavier Blais
Interactive Producer: Terri Winter, Todd Harrison
Developer: Steve Lam
Designer: Claudia Barberio
Lead Strategist: Pascal Routhier
Studio Artist: Cadu Rocha
Agency Producers: Sarah Longpré, Johanne Pelland, Katia Dupuy,
Samuel Bonneau, AJ Merrick, Steph Walker Wells
Account Services: Alex Lefebvre, Rose Napoléon, Aïcha Diallo
PR: Rethink - Meredith Montgomery, Sara Lemmermeyer
Production house: ContentContent
Director: Simon Ronny Lebrun
Producer: Raphaëlle Rousseau
Editor: Leigh O’Neill
Client: Jaylone Lee, Marie-Lou Blais, Maeva Reffo, Manuela Comte

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