'Sport Makes the World Better' in These Small, Triumphant Ads
Quiet moments of personal triumph, contemplation and communion define a series of short ads from French sporting goods chain Decathlon.
Big-name endorsers are absent from the 12-second spots. So are ecstatic victory celebrations, joyous teams and cheering crowds. For the most part, we don't even see folks playing their sports of choice.
Instead, creative agency Romance and La/Pac directors Michel and Nicolas Arribehaute (aka Michel + Nico) share glimpses of inner resolve and spiritual satisfaction, illustrating the many ways "Sport Makes the World Better."
We see sports help people of all backgrounds and ages regain and maintain equilibrium. Through intense physical exertion, they find a modicum of inner peace and grow more attuned to their bodies and the world around them.
"When talking to the Decathlon team, we discovered they had a very precise vision of sports: Everywhere there is sports, the world is doing better," Romance strategy head Jérôme Lavillat tells Muse. "We found that vision very interesting, especially at a time when the world is not doing so well. What if sports could actually be part of the solution to everything we are going through—the pandemic, environmental and social crises? What if, by practicing sports, we all had the power to make the world better?"
Romance creative director Frederick Lung describes each brief film as "one raw moment of sports and a demonstration of what it makes better."
The campaign presents surfers who become so aware of their environment that they clean up the beach, a kid riding a scooter at a skate park (thus making concrete better), and a tennis player who "improves" a rain-streaked wall by using it to practice her groundstrokes. Most movingly, a jogger with injured legs luxuriates in a shower after a long run—his sacrifice and dedication elevating the experience.
Happy rituals all, enacted by amateur athletes and, in a few cases, Declathlon employees. Sometimes, the small stuff means so much, and these vignettes deliver that message with highly relatable brevity.
"Decathlon covers disciplines and ranges from beginner to advanced level. We needed to be able to cover a very wide range of practices and type of practitioner. A short format was ideal for that," says Romance strategy planner Sam Naggar.
There's a moody, understated realism here, an oft-intense inward glance that defines the Romance style. The shop's work for supermarket chain Intermarché—with topics ranging from kids' incessant questions to the pent up desire around pandemic deconfinement—shares this sensibility.
Decathlon France Communications Leader: Erwan Soquet
Communication Director France: Erika Vanobbergen
Content Leader France: Jean Chevalier
Campaign Coordinator France: Guillaume Ramond
CEO: Christophe Lichtenstein
Executive Creative Director: Alexandre Hervé
Copywriter: Alexandre Hervé
Creative Director: Frederick Lung
Art Director: Julien Rézette
Head of Strategy: Jérôme Lavillat
Strategic Planners: Benoît Clavé, Sam Naggar
Associate Director: Émilie Franck
Account Director: Arthur Amis
Account Manager: Charlotte Seillier
TV Producer: Émilie Talpaert, Florence Gabet
Directors: Michel + Nico
DOP: Snorre Ruhe