RBC shoots to score with grassroots hockey initiative

The bank has announced a new $1 million grant program to develop and encourage involvement in hockey throughout North America.

RBC is leveraging the wave of positive sentiment Canadians felt coming out of the Vancouver Winter Olympics to launch a new grassroots hockey initiative.

RBC Play Hockey is set to be one of the pillars of the bank’s brand marketing strategy going forward and will focus on growing the sport at the community level through a $1 million-a-year grant program. A team of hockey ambassadors are on board, such as NHL stars Steven Stamkos, Steve Yzerman, P.K. Subban, and women’s Olympic Hockey gold medalists Carla MacLeod and Jennifer Botterill.

The program is being promoted with activity at the local level through the bank’s branch network, as well as an extensive media that will kick off in mid-December and carry on into the new year, coinciding with the World Junior hockey tournament, of which RBC has been a long-time sponsor. The effort, which will precede RBC’s winter RSP investment messaging, will include TV, online, posters and print ads.

BBDO Toronto and Cloudraker Montreal are handling creative, with M2 Universal taking care of media and Stellick Marketing Communications managing media relations and strategy.

The program is escalating RBC’s long-time involvement with the sport at both the national and community levels, which includes a 15-year partnership with Hockey Canada. It aims to leverage much of the energy created behind the brand thanks to its presence at the Vancouver Olympics.

‘The Olympics had an amazing impact on our brand equity scores, so one of the things we needed to do was keep momentum going and push things back to the community like the torch relay had done so well for us,’ Jim Little, chief brand and communications officer, RBC, tells MiC. ‘[With RBC Play Hockey] we’re really trying to continue that feeling we as Canadians had about how proud we were about our [hockey] teams doing well at the Olympics and about how proud we are of hockey as a national game, and then figure out where we can add the most value.’

As of Dec. 26, Canadians can submit applications to receive grants in support of people and programs helping the development of hockey in communities not just in Canada, but across North America.

RBC celebrated the unveiling of the program at events in Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton where they announced three initial grants of $25,000 going to three grassroots hockey projects in those cities.