Decathlon's Olympic bid for impact

The French sports retailer embarks on a new global strategy as Paris gears up for the Games.

yoluyla Mark Tungate , Adforum


If you live in France and you do any kind of sport, it’s hard not to own at least one item from Decathlon. With the Olympic Games coming to Paris this summer, the French sports retail chain is likely to benefit from the nation’s big moment. And it’s making the most of it, with a new mission statement and logo, as well as an ad campaign from AMV BBDO.

The new logo, called “L’Orbit”, attracted quite a bit of attention – some a little critical – from social and traditional media in the brand’s homeland. It was designed by Wolff Olins, which like AMV BBDO is part of the Omnicom network.

Decathlon itself states the logo is part of “an ambitious new global strategy” for the brand, which wants to go beyond being a mere retailer to compete with the likes of Nike and Adidas. 

Established in 1976, Decathlon began its international expansion ten years later, in Germany. Today it has 1700 stores worldwide. It has long positioned itself as a brand that makes lives happier and healthier through sport. Its new mission statement is: “To move people through the wonders of sport.”

Decathlon CEO Barbara Martin Coppola, who came aboard in 2022, said the brand aimed to have “a stronger impact” on humankind. She stated: “Today more than ever, the world needs sport. It has the power to bring people together and improves both physical and mental health.”



As part of the upgrade, Decathlon is revamping its website with the help of AI to create “a fluid shopping experience…any time and anywhere”. Its offline stores will get a facelift too, the company adds, making specific products easier to track down among its currently rather cluttered aisles.

In addition, it’s reducing its confusing selection of private label brands to concentrate on nine categories. (I notice that the swimwear brand Nabaiji appears to have been culled, making my swimming trunks instantly out of date.)

Meanwhile, AMV BBDO’s joyous and niftily-edited film also features a voiceover with what appears to be a French accent, which is a neat touch. It asks the question, “Ready to Play?”



The ad was directed by Hector Dockrill, while Tom Sloan shot the visuals for the poster campaign. The democratic, light-hearted tone of the campaign – as opposed to a focus on grit and winning – certainly chimes with the real-life experience of Decathlon, whose pricing and helpful staff do indeed make sport feel accessible to all.