The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Big Lots vs. Dick’s Sporting Goods

Discussion
Source: Dick's Sporting Goods: "The Table"
Nov 20, 2018
George Anderson

Can a commercial with a catchy, classic rock soundtrack, but with just over 100 views on YouTube, beat another spot that pulls at the heart strings and has been played over three million times on the social media channel? That’s what we’re testing with this week’s Christmas Commercial Challenge matchup between Big Lots and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Big Lots, which has produced some of the most popular spots in the first five years of RetailWire’s annual competition, is back at it again with “Stock Up on Joy,” a 30-second commercial that displays all the discount/closeout retailer has to offer for Christmas. “Home furniture, holiday décor, fabulous gifts — you’ll get more than you thought for less than you think.”

Dick’s Sporting Goods’ “The Table” is a story of a family through the generations backed with a soundtrack by Langhorne Slim and the Law’s “Changes.” The spot connects the story of a ping pong table given years before as a Christmas gift to two children and its place in their lives as they age to the modern day where they return to their childhood home to celebrate the holiday with their own children.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:  What is your critique of Big Lot’s “Stock Up On Joy!” and Dick’s Sporting Goods’ “The Table”? Which retailer does a better job of connecting with its core customers while reaching out to new shoppers?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Dick's is the best execution of storytelling that we have seen thus far, and Big Lots is very pointed in its value proposition for the season."
"I’m going to disagree with the majority here. The Big Lots ad was fun and upbeat, while the Dick’s ad was sentimental and missed out..."
"I liked both spots. They told me who they were and gave reasons to drop by this holiday season."

Join the Discussion!

25 Comments on "The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Big Lots vs. Dick’s Sporting Goods"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Phil Masiello
BrainTrust

The Big Lot’s commercial and the “Joy to the World” song has been done before by Big Lots. It is the same theme that they used in 2017.

I think Dick’s did a better job of showing how buying from Dick’s can bring the family together at the holiday time.

I am not a fan of either quite frankly, but Dick’s does a better job of the two.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

There is nothing especially distinctive about the Big Lots ad — put a different logo on the shopping bags (and at the end of the spot) and it could have been a commercial for HomeGoods or just about anybody else. And Walmart “owns” the use of vintage hit records used in creative ways, so not many points for originality either.

This week’s winner is the Dick’s Sporting Goods ad. It’s very relatable for this Boomer parent of Millennials headed home for Thanksgiving — they will revert to childhood once they’re in the door (although it may be beer pong instead of ping pong). And it doesn’t hurt that Dick’s sells ping pong tables among many other things, so the spot manages to be specific to the store’s assortment too.

Evan Snively
BrainTrust

Tough battle!

Dick’s is the best execution of storytelling that we have seen thus far, and Big Lots is very pointed in its value proposition for the season. I think that both spots do a great job playing to their core audiences (the holiday homemaker and the family with kids), but I would give the slight edge to Big Lots at the acquisition of new customers with a better job piquing curiosity about what can be found at the store.

Overall, a win for both!

Ian Percy
BrainTrust

You make a solid point Evan. But by the time I submitted my comment and thought back over the two ads I found I could recall the entire Dick’s ping pong script but, apart from the Christmas tree, couldn’t really recall any of the “stuff” that was flying around at hyper-speed in the Big Lots ad. The way I look at it, it’s not about the products, it’s about the presence. Which one makes you want to be there?

Evan Snively
BrainTrust

Agreed that the Dick’s story is much more memorable, but maybe that is because I can personally relate to so many of the elements (reveling in the first time I beat an older sibling – check, spilled paint in basement – check, broken game table at house party – check, teaching my kids the games I grew up with – check). On the other hand, Big Lots does make a pretty compelling reminder that I should probably take down my Halloween decorations and put up the Christmas ones…

Ian Percy
BrainTrust

Yup. I have the same check marks you do, Evan. The only thing Dick’s didn’t cover was putting a plastic Christmas tablecloth on the ping pong table and using it to put food and drinks on! Good memories huh?

David Weinand
BrainTrust

They are both good ads. In terms of reflecting the breadth of offerings in a succinct way (30 seconds vs. 60 seconds) the Big Lots ad wins in my book. It’s quick, shows a broad array of products they sell and pulls in the holiday spirit nicely. The Dick’s ad is good but the ping-pong table is definitely a specialty item (still one of my favorite games) and doesn’t reflect the broad options Dick’s represent.

Ian Percy
BrainTrust

A story can be told in two ways: as something you watch or as something you’re in. That, fundamentally, is the difference between these two ads. The Big Lot’s ad you watch. It moves fast. There’s so much stuff to assimilate, not much with which to identify. The Dick’s Sporting Goods ad you’re in — you are the story. That was YOUR old ping pong table with the paint stains, a place to store all YOUR junk. YOUR brother or sister who you’ll love and compete with until the end of days.

When your story is the customer’s story you win every time.

Ed Rosenbaum
BrainTrust

I must admit they both attracted me but in different ways. “The Table” was part of our history. We had one at home when our sons were young. They played regualarly and were competitve. Now they have one in their home and their boys are playing. Yes, they can beat me if they want. Occasionally they let me win a game or two.
Big Lots grabbed my attention from the start because of the music. It would be a winner except “The Table” has to get my vote on this one.

Cynthia Holcomb
BrainTrust

A Dick’s commercial pulling at my heartstrings! Who knew Dick’s had ping pong tables! The clear winner, Dick’s! Memorable because the commercial touches a basic human emotion, memories.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust
I’d have turned away from the Dick’s ad long before I had any idea who it was from — hence a zero advertising effect. That said, it’s beautifully produced, a very sweet story. I’m torn by the fact that they give such an honest portrayal of what a ping pong table gets used for. It’s true. Yet it’s like advertising fitness equipment by showing the laundry hanging on it — true, gritty reality yet not a good choice for advertising. Yet once more: production A+ and advertising F. Big Lots will have much more impact with their ad. We know who it is. And at the end they tell us what we might find. However, they needed to have connected the dots. We see bags — we never get a connection that, for example, the tree lights are from those bags. Yes, many here might scoff at such things. But having used advertising to drive millions of units of brand new product out retailer doors at the holiday, those details matter. Big Lots should have… Read more »
Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust

Dick’s Sporting Goods gets a big thumbs up! They delve deeper into the meaningful aspects of a product and how it is experienced across time and generations. Powerfully executed, it draws you to the many other possibilities you can create yourself by shopping at Dick’s. This is a well-executed story that equally relies on the audience to participate and imagine the possibilities.

Big Lots’ spot is replete with joy in fast moving collages of jubilant family gatherings. The message is about how value and low prices that can make everyone experience joy in their own family. The message is direct and unambiguous, the meaning is clear and singular. Nothing wrong with that and I expect it will resonate well with their customers.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

Both succeed in different ways. Big Lots had one goal — show in 30 seconds the breadth of value you get from solving all your holiday shopping needs at Big Lots. And they succeed while giving you a classic tune — not the most creative, or the most original, but it gets the job done and gives you a reason to shop there.

Likewise, Dick’s has one goal — make it personal, convince you that what you’re buying from Dick’s isn’t just sporting goods, it’s family memories that last forever. They succeed with this spot and I’d suggest this is the best spot so far we’ve seen with this goal in its sights. I give the nod to Dick’s for this ad!

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

To me, the Big Lot’s piece is generic — it could have been run by anyone. The Dick’s piece was obviously more of a story, but more than that, it was a story about the customer, not the retailer, making it all the more impactful. I’ve written that a good story entertains, informs, and amuses, but a great story allows you to find yourself inside of it. Bog Lot’s is a good story, I guess, although it’s way too generic for my taste, but Dick’s is a great story that allows the viewer to find themselves.

Ian Percy
BrainTrust

We are thinking far too much alike, Ryan. You’re starting to scare me!

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

Ian, if you are thinking like I do … you should be scared.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
BrainTrust

The Dick’s Sporting Goods spot really connects with core customers, while inviting new customers to enjoy the gifts of Christmas and family throughout the year and their lives. I liked the Big Lots ad as well, however it’s not a lot different from similar spots presented by a variety of retailers at this time of the year. My vote is Dick’s.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

Dick’s ad wins hands down. The reason is evident in the BrainTrust responses. “I can relate to that … ” “I remember … ” when discussing the Dick’s spot. The “heart-tugging” story it tells — a story Dick’s has played a part in — is the reason it resonates with so many. Again, when a spot creates tears or smiles, that emotional ingredient makes it a winner. We can all relate to it.

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

I liked both spots. They told me who they were and gave reasons to drop by this holiday season. I personally liked Dick’s better as it focused on family traditions rather than decorating and toys. So that is who will get my 2 cents.

Jasmine Glasheen
Staff

I’m going to disagree with the majority here. The Big Lots ad was fun and upbeat, while the Dick’s ad was sentimental and missed out on that perky consumerism for which the retail holiday season is known. If a holiday spot leaves me feeling more depressed than before I watched it, I’m definitely not heading to your stores.

Harley Feldman
BrainTrust

Big Lots’ ad invokes the spirit of giving for Christmas, and the possibility of finding the gifts at Big Lots when the gift giving message sinks in. Most consumers would not think of Big Lots for Christmas, but the ad takes the viewer there.

The Dick’s ad is pretty subtle — it takes almost the complete ad to get the “lasts forever” message. When consumers buy Christmas gifts, they try to find the right gift for the person; not many consumers will think of something that lasts forever. Big Lots wins this competition.

David Naumann
BrainTrust

From an emotional and nostalgic perspective, the Dick’s ad has a much stronger connection with shoppers. I grew up with a ping pong table and our family found other uses for our table are we got older. It sure brings back memories. While I enjoyed the commercial, I think I would have to see it several times before I remembered it was from Dick’s and it doesn’t compel me to do my holiday shopping at Dicks.

The Big Lots commercial is not as creative, but it is more practical — the joy of saving money. This commercial would be more influential on my choice of stores for holiday shopping.

James Tenser
BrainTrust

Here are two spots that portray alternate holiday realities: Dick’s is story-driven, a not-too-sweet fantasy about generational family bonding over a tennis table. Big Lots flashes images of glitzy holiday decor in abundant quantities that likely would exceed the reach of its core customers. Gifts are mentioned, but not described.

Where Big Lots scores big for its toe-tapping sound track by Three-Dog Night, Dick’s succeeds at making the table the star. For me, all that was missing to complete the verisimilitude were scenes of laundry being folded and cigarette burns on the edge.

Oddly, I have a sudden urge this morning to acquire a ping-pong table like the one I grew up with. I guess that means Dick’s wins the edge in this battle.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Big Lots got my vote, not because I particularly like it — OTC it had the feel of “I’ve seen this before” (I think we actually have?) — but because it got right to the point. Dick’s had the feeling of someone trying to create a “moment,” but not quite doing it … it would make a nice mini-series.

Jeff Miller
BrainTrust

This is an absolute landslide in favor of Dick’s. Aside from the bags as they walk in the door and the end tag, the Big Lots ad could be for any retailer in almost any product category in the world. “Save on lots of products” is a marketing message targeted to absolutely no one.

The Dick’s commercial hits on a real world and emotional experience that many families have and wraps it around a specific product and product category that is probably a big seller for Dick’s during the holiday. It also happens to be a product that is less likely to be purchased online via Amazon, so gives a reason for someone to go into Dick’s to shop. Dick’s has my vote, not just in this challenge, but for the entire holiday season so far.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Dick's is the best execution of storytelling that we have seen thus far, and Big Lots is very pointed in its value proposition for the season."
"I’m going to disagree with the majority here. The Big Lots ad was fun and upbeat, while the Dick’s ad was sentimental and missed out..."
"I liked both spots. They told me who they were and gave reasons to drop by this holiday season."

Take Our Instant Poll

Which retailer does a better job of connecting with its core customers while also reaching out to new shoppers with its 2018 holiday commercial?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...