Raptors put fans in the equation

A season of low expectations has the team's media strategy focused on young players and visiting stars.

Following the departure of star player Chris Bosh, the Toronto Raptors aren’t expected to wow fans on the court this season, but the basketball team is still hoping to wow with its ads campaign.

It started last week, before an opening day loss, with streetcar wraps and Raptor players touring the city, handing out free tickets to commuters, Shannon Hosford, senior director, marketing, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, tells MiC.

The team followed that up with a domination of the Toronto Star website.

The rest of the campaign, targeting 18- to 49-year-old men, is expected to be more typical, with print ads in the Star, the Raptors’ media partner, and on Rogers stations. On radio, the team will have ads on the Fan 590 sports station, as well as all Corus stations in the region. Online, the team is aggressively advertising on sports websites relevant to local fans.

Media was handled by Endeavour in Toronto, with creative and digital work done in-house.

The theme of this season’s campaign is ‘Raptors + You = the perfect equation.’ To start the season off, the tagline read, ‘Opening week + You = the perfect equation.’ The equation, Hosford says, can be changed to highlight certain players – particularly the young up-and-comers – or certain tickets deals.

The media strategy will also change depending on upcoming games. When the Miami Heat, with their new lineup of stars, including Bosh, appear in Toronto, the ads will feature the celebrity aspect of the game.

‘For a B-list game, we’d focus on our young players, talking about [them] and what you can expect, and for a lower-attended game, we talk about the NBA entertainment, and focus on the Raptor (mascot) and the dance pack (cheerleaders) and those types of things,’ Hosford says.