Champion Sportswear Launches Global Creative Review

By Patrick Coffee 

Champion, that classic maker of basic athletic wear seen in gyms around the world, has issued an RFP seeking a new global creative agency of record.

“As Champion continues to grow globally, we are looking for an agency partner to develop a global campaign for 2020 that will be executed across all our major markets,” said a brand spokesperson. “This is a new assignment and does not affect any existing agency relationships.”

We’re told there’s no consultancy on the review, with the brand running things on its own.

As you know, Champion is a very familiar brand with both visual and name recognition. Founded as Knickerbocker Knitting Company in Rochester, N.Y. 100 years ago, it was renamed “Champion Knitting Mills” in the 1930s and began making shirts for U.S. military training, according to Wikipedia. It is now part of the Hanesbrands portfolio, which was recently spun off from Sara Lee.

The company currently works with 360i in the U.S.. Its most recent global campaign, which ran in January, celebrated its centennial with the copyline “100 Years for the Team” and featured Magic Johnson.

According to a writeup in AdAge, the above featured creative by London-based agency Exposure (which is slightly confusing because we know them as a PR firm). Below is an older effort by 360i.

An agency spokesperson declined to comment.

While Champion is a known name, it has not boasted a large marketing budget in recent years; Kantar has the company spending just over $720,000 on measured media in the U.S. in 2017.

But international consultancy R3 estimates a global annual spend at around $30 million, and the quote above indicates more ambitious work on the way.

The company has also done quite well for itself in recent years, becoming cool again in an effortless, Chuck Taylor sort of way. An April Bloomberg profile noted double-digit growth over recent holiday seasons and the fact that sales have increased for 10 years in a row. As one fan put it, “Everybody can wear Champion. My mom can rep Champion—and my grandma probably can, too.”

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