As an obsessed Toronto Raptors fan since 1996, I have followed this team closely; and now as a marketer, it’s about more than just the basketball to me. An article from Canadian Business, “Meet the marketer behind the Raptors’ #WeTheNorth campaign”, caught my attention the other week. It isn’t new, but was shared because it’s relevant with the recent buzz around the Raptors.
It labelled the marketing as “one of the most successful rebranding efforts Canadian sports has ever seen,” and my heart just fluttered as my two worlds collided – marketing held hands with basketball.
As the only NBA basketball team in Canada, the Toronto Raptors have stepped up their game (literally), and allowed Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. (MLSE) to think outside the box, strategically placing shirts on each seat in the ACC to create an overarching piece of art out of its fans, encouraging pop-up “Jurassic Parks” all over Canada. It was pure genius.
With the rise of “We The North” as the boys rose through the playoffs, the theme has not only stretched across Canada, but is now seen all over the world as it is mimicked by other teams (the Orlando Magic “We the South”) and other companies (Bell Lightbox’s See the North).
So, what does this mean? The Raptors (and their wild fans) are being seen, heard and recognized.
Ultimately, this is what you want when trying to market a product, person or event. Creating buzz is a great goal, but seeing engagement is key. Other teams trying to imitate what MLSE created shows just how much the Raptors and its fan base were getting under their skin.
And we love it.
Catchy and clever is memorable.
Now, as The Raptors end their season as NBA Champions, coming off the high of the two million strong parade route, it will be very interesting to see how they keep the catchy and clever memorable.