Spotted! Phaneuf has wiiings

In an unusual media move for the energy drink brand, it has launched a mass OOH campaign across Toronto promoting its sponsorship of the Leafs captain.

It was so unusual, it immediately caught our eye: a gigantic Red Bull OOH execution in Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square.

It was followed by other OOH sightings: an oversized banner on Peter Street and transit-station advertising at Union Station, all featuring Toronto Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf. The Peter Street billboard features the tagline: ‘Dion gives Toronto wiiings.’

What is unusual about the media strategy is this: Red Bull Canada is not a traditional advertiser. While its cartoony ‘Red Bull gives you wiiings’ commercials can occasionally be spotted on conventional TV, it usually shies away from such old-school endeavours.

The brand is more famous for pouring most of its marketing budget into executing and promoting large-scale extreme-sports events (such as the Red Bull Air Race or Red Bull Crashed Ice) and elaborate extreme-sports athlete sponsorships, which became famous at the 2010 Olympics when it was revealed that Red Bull had built a private halfpipe in the backcountry for star snowboarding athlete Shaun White, so he could practice in secret for the Games.

Notoriously tight-lipped about its marketing strategy, the Canadian office of energy drink brand wasn’t available to speak to MiC about its sudden interest in mass OOH, but the Phaneuf sponsorship itself indicates the energy drink may be making changes in its marketing strategy, moving toward more conventional athlete sponsorships, as well as more conventional media plans. Red Bull Canada’s media is handled by Touche!PHD and creative for the Phaneuf campaign was handled by Sid Lee in Toronto.

Sadly, the campaign appears to have rather unfortunate timing: Phaneuf has been off the ice since Nov. 2 with a leg injury sustained in a game against Ottawa.