2022 Winner


Gear up

FCB Montréal

GoldNiche Strategy

BronzeCause/Public Service

BronzeEvolution Strategy: Keeping it Fresh

BMO has been a major partner of the Montreal soccer team CF Montreal since 2012. Under the banner #FanFini (an expression meaning ultimate fan), its activations have emphasized that the brand is more than just a sponsor; it is a passionate and active member of the soccer community.

In 2021, BMO wanted to bring its brand purpose “to boldly grow the good” to life. The intended goal of the activation was to break down barriers to playing soccer by providing accessibility to kids who want to play.

While soccer is the world’s most popular team sport, with over 265 million players globally, 60% of kids from low-income households can’t afford the equipment necessary to play. The situation in Montreal is no different.

The brief was clear: break down this barrier without throwing money at it. BMO needed to raise awareness of the issue and provide a means through which underprivileged children could partake in the game.

Kids want to play, but more than anything, they want to feel like regular kids, not charity cases.

Household wealth is the primary driver of children’s athletic participation, particularly in North America, with children born in low-income households being three-times more likely to be inactive. BMO wanted to help more children join the ranks of the Montreal soccer family, thus helping to boldly grow the good. So they looked to the existing soccer community.

Montreal soccer fans are not only physically active, but they also share their love of the sport with their families. Nearly 2/3 of them have kids who play soccer. Moreover, 61% of them attend soccer games as a family unit. Research showed that soccer fans – parents and children alike – show a deeper sense of connection and commitment to their community, being more inclined to partake in social and charitable endeavours. Linking the activation to BMO’s long-standing sponsorship of the well-loved Montreal soccer team, CF Montreal, provided even greater interest and traction among this group.

They had found their target, but they needed to take their thinking a step further. Not only did their activation need to be inclusive of children in need, but they needed to create a program that would enable them to feel like they were regular kids. They wanted to give them control of how they joined and participated in Montreal’s soccer community.

For kids in low-income households, the barriers to playing soccer go beyond money. So, they turned charity into a normalized shopping experience for children in need. Taking advantage of the growing trend of repurposing sports equipment, they rallied soccer fans around a major donation drive to collect gently used soccer gear.

The donated equipment was cleaned and refurbished before being photographed and uploaded to their website where children in need could choose up to four items, all free of charge. The selected items were then carefully wrapped and delivered directly to their homes.

The engaging and premium website experience was central to the idea. Their goal was to provide the children in need with the opportunity to shop for their gear, without feeling like they were benefitting from charity, without feeling marginalized. Ultimately, making them feel like they belonged.

Their multimedia campaign lasted four weeks, and consisted of digital, social, OOH, and television. Designed to reach families and casual sports fans as well as soccer fans, it provided exposure from start to finish. They leveraged special tools, such as SAM Digital Targeting, to tap into first party data and better identify and connect with their target.

They also reached out to local soccer clubs in order to get the word out about the collection drive among the people who were most likely to have items to donate. The clubs themselves provided them with a wealth of much-needed equipment and acted as a gateway to soccer families. The activation culminated with an activation at Stade Saputo. Well-known soccer personalities, TVA Sports announcers, and comedian Michael Kunta were all in attendance to create excitement for the event and the program itself.

The most powerful part of the Gear Up campaign was the shopping experience they provided. They were very intentional through every step of the process. The online store felt premium, and the kids were excited about having the possibility to select their soccer equipment. Unique access codes were distributed to families in need through partnerships with community organizations like the YMCA.

Their Gear Up campaign was successful in getting equipment to those in need, as well as bringing needed attention to the issue. In just four weeks, 10,756 pieces of equipment were collected (vs initial objective of 1.500) and more than 2,500 young people received the equipment they needed. The campaign achieved 90% positive sentiment, +10% compared to past activations. The campaign generated over $500K of unpaid media – double the paid media budget. BMO is now 15 points ahead of its biggest competitor in the Quebec market for “being clearly involved in the community”.

By breathing new life into pre-owned equipment, BMO not only achieved its objective of helping underprivileged youth join in the game, but it also generated a positive impact on the environment by preventing the gear from ending up in landfills. In a post-activation survey, 94% of Montrealers who were aware of the program stated that “in giving a second life to soccer equipment, BMO demonstrated its commitment to sustainable development”.

Ann-Marie Beauchemin
Mélanie Miron
Marie-Pier Bergevin
Eric Martin
Sabrina Morin
AGENCY : FCB (Montréal)
VP, HEAD OF CREATIVE : Sylvain Dufresne
CREATIVE : Sylvain Dufresne ECD, Martin Rivard CR, Stefan Szary
AD, Emily Wilkinson CR, Julien Ponton AD, Sébastien Robillard AD,
Étienne Soucy CR (copywriter)
ACCOUNT : Krystelle Ruest, Julie Simon, Michael Watier, Julie
DIRECTOR : Mathieu Renoult
MEDIA : UM Media

For submission inquiries, please contact Clare O'Brien at cobrien@brunico.com.
For partnership inquiries, please contact Neil Ewen at newen@brunico.com.