Sports Direct is running its first ever Christmas advert as it tries to reach shoppers during England’s second lockdown, which has forced the chain’s shops to shut during one of its busiest trading periods.
The social media ad is directed by Henry Schofield, who is best-known for directing the music video for Stormzy’s Vossi Bop, and styled by Toni Blaze, the stylist who has worked with artists including Jorja Smith and Mary J Blige.
The advert if part of an attempt to take Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group – the owner of Sports Direct – upmarket in order to secure better products from key brands such as Nike and Adidas, and to compete with retailers such as JD Sports.
Eschewing the discount tags and oversized mugs for which Sports Direct is known, the film follows a young woman’s response to a question from her mum: “What do you want for Christmas?” It switches from an urban bus stop into a fantasy world of different sports – from basketball to boxing, fishing to football – with a cameo from the Liverpool captain, Jordan Henderson.
Michael Murray, head of elevation at the retailer, said: “The evolution of our brand is the final piece of our elevation strategy. This is just the start of things to come for the new look Sports Direct.”
The ad launches as retailers struggle to connect with locked-down shoppers and attempt to make up for high street sales lost because of the forced closure of non-essential stores during England’s second lockdown.
Frasers Group has said the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis was “causing devastation” in the retail sector.
Frasers initially said all its chains, including Sports Direct, the upmarket fashion store Flannels, House of Fraser and Evans Cycles, would be cloed during the four-week lockdown. However, the latter, which is allowed to trade because bike shops are classed as essential, does now have stores open.