Adidas Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee have announced a new four-year partnership, making Adidas the official supplier of high-performance apparel and footwear for Canada's Olympians through 2016.
Canada's becomes the latest Olympic team to partner with Adidas, who also sponsors 11 other Olympic teams, including Team GB, Germany and France. The deal includes a high-performance collection of athletic apparel - including workout clothing, footwear and accessories - and sponsorship deals for seven Canadian Olympic hopefuls.
Sport Chek will carry the collection in its stores across Canada, as will select Canadian Tire stores starting in November.
Sport Chek and Adidas announced two-year sponsorship deals with seven notable Canadian athletes, who will earn financial support, be featured in a marketing campaign launching this fall and will be involved in community initiatives: short-track speed skater Charles Hamelin, bobsled pilot Kaillie Humphries, hockey player Meaghan Mikkelson, skeleton racer Jon Montgomery, snowboarder Maelle Ricker, alpine skier Erik Guay and ski cross racer Chris Del Bosco.
"As an elite athlete, it's nice to be associated with elite brands, and Adidas and Sport Chek are premium brands," said Montgomery, who won Gold at the Vancouver Olympics, but notes that Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton is actually in a $200,000 deficit and lost its title sponsor, VISA, after the 2010 Games.
"It's still a tough row to hoe for Canadian athletes when it comes to getting sponsorship dollars in the private sector - even for the seven of us standing up here. It's not an easy landscape to work within as far as private sponsorship in Canada, so it's so rewarding when a deal like this this comes together."
Back in January, the COC announced a new deal with Canadian Tire Corporation Limited (CTC), Sport Chek and Sports Experts. CTC entered into an eight-year agreement as a Premier National Partner of the Canadian Olympic Team, represented the largest commitment of its kind to amateur sport in the country.
The company also announced deals with the Canadian Paralympic Committee, the Canadian Soccer Association, Skate Canada, Hockey Canada, Alpine Canada and Canada Snowboard. Canadian Tire has increased its investment in sports retailing since purchasing Forzani Group Ltd. in 2011 - now FGL Sports Ltd. - and has been working to strengthen its Sport Chek and Sports Experts brands.
"We wanted to continue to build the brand in ways outside the Games window," said Chris Overholt, the Canadian Olympic Committee's CEO. "We announced HBC, RBC in fall of 2011 and since then have had regular announcements with partners, and there will be more to come. In our estimation, there was never a drop-off after the 2010 Games. Vancouver gave us an opportunity to take it to an all-new level. We're currently experiencing a level of endorsements previously not known, even in the run-up to Vancouver. There are more deals of that nature now than there have ever been. Seeing Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, and Adidas step up to support our athletes as they are, quite frankly, I think represents an altogether new chapter in Canadian sport history."
The COC, which oversees 52 individual Canadian national sport federations, has been active recently in landing new deals. It announced a new partnership with BMW Group Canada earlier this year, which will go through the next two Olympic Games: Sochi 2014 and Rio 2016. Last summer, surrounding the London Olympics, Bell, Air Canada, Suncor and General Mills all announced they were extending their deals with the COC for another four years. The COC also has deals with RBC and the Hudson's Bay Company.
It also received an unprecedented funding boost earlier this year of close to $100-million dollars to assist high performance sport, Games preparation, development and planning for the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games team.
The athletes will be appearing in TV commercials, among other promotions. Mikkelson has already appeared in Sport Chek commercials for Mother's Day and Father's Day, ads which depict her training regimen in and out of the hockey rink.
"It's been incredible, a little bit surreal at times - I had never shot a commercial before," said Mikkelson, who was a defenceman on Canada's 2010 gold-medal-winning team. "I'm really thankful they wanted me to be a part of it. There are a lot of phenomenal athletes in Canada, so I'm excited to be chosen."