Champs Sports goes back to school with a lesson on how to “win better” in a new campaign from independent agency Orchard.
It’s the retailer’s first work to launch since Chief Creative Officer David Kolbus joined Orchard in May, after serving in the same post at Droga5 London. Orchard shortened its name earlier this year from Lightning Orchard.
The idea for the campaign was inspired by the fusion of sports and style that Champs Sports, a subsidiary of Foot Locker, stands for as a brand, Kolbusz explained. “It’s not just performance, it’s also about looking good, and there’s a little bit of an attitude to them as well.”
Three spots show athletes in familiar training scenarios, yet each refreshingly skews from the norm of the sports retail playbook. One (above) depicts football players at a typical practice—until a dude with a backpack who looks like he just walked out of the classroom intercepts one of their passes. He does a midfield victory dance and, surprisingly, the player he swiped the ball from joins in on the fun.
Another ad stars twin college basketball players Hanna and Haley Cavinder, who signed a long-term NIL partnership with the company. One does drills on the court, her intensity and speed made almost superhuman by the gritty metal soundtrack, after which her sister is ready to jump in.
A third ad features professional lacrosse player Myles Jones, throwing down a medicine ball at the gym ferociously to the beat of a drum—which turns out to be coming from a marching band member standing by his side.
The off-kilter stories are meant to show how Champs Sports is there to help people “win better”—not just by training harder and sweating more.
“It's not just about athletic prowess, it's about winning in your own inimitable way,” Kolbusz said. “Sometimes it's not just about getting the points on the board, but it's how you get those points. You can actually have the opportunity to win better by folding in your own idiosyncratic way of doing that.”
Orchard began working with Champs Sports in January, as part of a multi-project partnership. To direct this campaign, the agency tapped creative-turned-director Ray Smiling, who’s repped out of Division7 and previously worked at agencies including Translation, Droga5 and Johannes Leonardo, among others.
Kolbusz credits Smiling for helping to elevate the stories with his fresh point of view. Take, for example, the unexpectedly goofy, joyful ending of the football spot. Smiling had suggested “the thing that you don’t want to do—which I thought was brilliant—you don’t want the audience to hate the guy who’s made the interception,” said Kolbusz. “There's a moment of communion between the two of them, where they just introduced this dance into it. They’re just fucking with each other and they were just absolutely natural.”
“At Champs Sports, we are constantly looking for ways to help the modern athlete ‘win better,’ both on the court and off," said Guy Harkless, senior VP and general manager of Champs Sports and Eastbay, in a statement. "The back-to-school season is that time of year when young athletes are recharged and ready to tackle their goals. We look forward to continuing supporting them in achieving those goals and doing so in style."
The spots begin running on digital and social channels this week and will be supported by digital display, in-store and website imagery and messaging.