LOS ANGELES: DICK's Sporting Goods, the retailer, has enjoyed considerable success in engaging consumers by using long-form content with minimal branding.

Ryan Eckel, VP/Brand Marketing at DICK'S – which currently runs approximately 500 stores – addressed this subject during the 2016 Brand Summit held by Advertising Age.

More specifically, he discussed two documentaries made by the retailer: "We could be king", focusing on the football team of two high schools that had been forced to merge, and "Keepers of the Game", about a Native American lacrosse team.

"For people under 25, their scarcest resource is attention. And everybody's producing content, so it's incredibly cluttered," Eckel said. (For more details, read Warc's exclusive report: DICK'S Sporting Goods stands out by stepping back.)

"We are very cognisant that we're competing against every other entertainment option you have – House of Cards, or whatever it could be."

Given it is up against hit shows on Netflix and any number of alternative forms of entertainment now on offer to consumers, DICK's knows its documentaries must be authentic and not focused on the hard sell.

"We try to tell a pure story. You'll see no mention of DICK'S Sporting Goods in any of our films," Eckel reported in explaining its strategy.

"When you're pushing a product ... all of a sudden you compromise a story, and then you have a much lower chance of succeeding in a cluttered environment."

This approach, he reported, was the result of a "big decision" to not just rely on more traditional advertising, but to instead forward DICK's underlying purpose of encouraging youth sports.

"We were doing, like, 35 video spots a year," said Eckel. "We could do 19, and do a film that promotes the values of the company and tell a story we were all proud of."

And as the brand's documentaries have appeared on ESPN and ABC, as well as being made available on Netflix itself, they can become an actual source of revenue.

This, in turn, means that marketing is no longer simply a cost centre for the company. "Now, people are paying us for the content, so we're having a reverse conversation," Eckel reported.

Data sourced from Warc