CIBC brings Punjabi back to Hockey Night in Canada

The financial institution is using the sponsorship of the broadcast and webcast to reach out to South Asians.

The CIBC has become a hero to a lot of new Canadians after helping CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada resurrect its Punjabi broadcast and webcast last weekend.

After the pubcaster dropped the Punjabi commentary from its Saturday night games at the start of the 2010/11 season because of budget constraints, there was outcry from devotees. Hoping to retain its Punjabi-speaking fans, the network reached out to potential sponsors.

Through ZenithOptimedia’s Toronto office, the CBC and the CIBC connected and made a deal, Howard Thomas, VP, marketing, communications and brand, CIBC, tells MiC.

‘For us, it was just one of those great properties out there,’ he says. ‘I was truthfully surprised it was still available to us at the time, so we bid fairly quickly.’

As part of the season-long sponsorship, CIBC gets online leaderboard ads and big box ads, co-branded Hockey Night in Canada-CIBC online units, and 15-second pre-roll ads and a button on the Facebook page of the Punjabi broadcast.

The bank is also planning in-branch events and contests involving Hanarayan Singh, the play-by-play announcer, and Amarinder Singh, the analyst.

According to Statistics Canada, Punjabi is the fourth most spoken language in Canada, and for the bank, the sponsorship was a no-brainer, according to Thomas.

‘This is a relevant way for us to target a segment of our customer base that it hugely important to us and growing,’ he says. ‘First and foremost, it’s a way to make our brand relevant to that community in a very unique and differentiating kind of way, knowing that the two guys are like cult heroes in that community, and it has a really good following.’

The broadcasts are available both live and on-demand at, and for free to Rogers Digital Cable subscribers on channel 385, and to Shaw Cable subscribers on channel 328.