MLSE’s digital branded content push

The sports organization is working with Ford to build a base of digital fans who will share its videos on social platforms.

Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment is looking to bring advertisers to their feet, deepening its investment in branded digital video content.

The company has long partnered with car co Ford, and is now focusing on increasing awareness of that partnership with the Toronto Raptors and the Maple Leafs.

It recently released a number of videos that feature players from both teams in ads with Ford cars. In one of the spots, Leaf players Leo Komarov and Michael Grabner take each other on in the Ultimate Trick Shot Challenge, which includes the two of them on ice aiming to bring down bags bursting with popcorn that are tied to the goalposts or standing at the outer rim of the rink and trying to lob shots into the trunk of an open Ford car that’s park in the centre.

A second video features players Morgan Rielly and Nazem Kadri. Both videos are hosted by Sarah D., otherwise known as @theFordFanatic.

The digital effort reflects a 100% increase in social and digital budgets for Ford’s strategy with the Maple Leafs brand.

“We are making the shift from TV to social to align with our video strategy, which is 100% digital,” says Josh Marion, manager of global partnerships at MLSE.

The company is just wrapped up filming a third video, Ford Leafs Alumni Rally Carts, which features players Shayne Corson and Nick Kypreos.

Four basketball videos featuring Raptors’ players Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Luis Scola and Norman Powell are also in the works.

The move is a response to how fans consume MLSE content, with 80% of them coming through the internet or mobile phones, he says.

“We wanted to make less of a car commercial and more something that fans would want to watch and share.”

The sports co worked with VMG Cinematic, a Toronto-based prodco, to develop the series of videos featuring ice hockey and basketball stars, while playing up its advertisers’ content.

The company is promoting the videos through paid social and digital advertising, focusing on each video with a seven-day cycle of promotions. The first video, which has been online for just over a week, has garnered close to 40,000 views.