Ram, Canadian Tire partner with Sportsnet for fantasy hockey

No fans in the stands? No problem, say two major brands.

In 2019, when the St. Louis Blues, who had spent most of the past season at the bottom of the league, ended up taking home the Stanley Cup, it proved that there is no such thing as a predictable Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But Anthony Attard, VP of sales for sports and NHL at Rogers Sports & Media, says this post-season is taking unpredictability to a whole new level. When the NHL paused the season in mid-March, its comeback plans involved reimagining the Playoffs format for 24 teams. The league is currently in the midst of a new qualifying round, which is unique from past years, before the first round of playoffs begin later this month. Attard says this new format will make fantasy challenges unique, and that sponsors have already found ways to make it work for them.

The first challenge is the Sportsnet Fantasy Hockey Pool: Playoffs Edition. Returning sponsor Ram, which has sponsored hockey pools with Sportsnet for three straight post-seasons, will offer one of two different Ram trucks to the grand prize winner. Fans can draft their teams up until the end of the second round of the Playoffs.

Also on the schedule is the Sportsnet Fantasy Hockey Playoffs Bracket presented by new sponsor Canadian Tire. More than $50,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded to fans who select series favourites for each round, from this week’s Qualifiers to the Final.

Attard says this  challenge is especially unique because the way the Playoffs are structured this year give it a sense of unpredictability. “With typical bracket challenges, the seeding is done prior to the start of the challenge. But because of this new format, everything gets re-seeded. After each round, inclusive of the qualifiers, we’re asking people that subscribe to the challenge to go back and do it again.”

In addition to Canadian Tire serving as the presenting sponsor of the challenge, Sportsnet and Canadian Tire will create content pieces starring Sportsnet personality Steve “Dangle” Glynn and Gary the Canadian Tire Guy doing their own brackets.

Attard admits that the lack of fans in the stands during this year’s Playoffs mean sponsorship and experiential activations will look a little different this year, bracket challenges are exactly the types of activations fans need right now.

“The advent of not having fans in the stands, in my opinion, doesn’t have much material impact,” he says. “Sports are all about the community and the collective – and a great part of that experience piece is to have these pools and bracket challenges.”

While Sportsnet worked directly with both brands, Attard also credits Ram and Canadian Tire’s respective AORs, Starcom and Touché!, with serving as strategic advisors to their clients.

A third contest, Predict the Playoffs, will begin during the first round of the Playoffs (Aug. 11). While there is no sponsor attached yet, Attard anticipates that there will be a brand signed on by the time it begins.