SBD/Issue 37/Franchises

How Should Raptors Be Marketed Given Team's Low Expectations?

Advertising Execs Feel Raptors' Young Onez
Site Not Best Way To Market Team

A panel of advertising execs recently discussed how to "make people care" about the Raptors, whose players "have combined for zero all-star appearances and form such an underwhelming unit that" SI ranked the team last in the Eastern Conference, according to Morgan Campbell of the TORONTO STAR. Fuzion Marketing Group Founder & CEO Quency Phillips said that the team should sell "accessibility," while Urban Music Association of Canada President Will Strickland said that the club should sell "ownership." N.Y. Cosmos soccer club CMO Dan Cherry said that the team should sell "possibility." Raptors officials said that they are "selling all of the above." Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Exec VP & COO Tom Anselmi said that the "idea of community investment inspired last summer's 'Raptors Plus YOU' ad campaign," and he pointed out that the Raptors "led all NBA teams in community visits last season." Campbell noted the Raptors "identified three of their most promising young players" in F Amir Johnson and Gs Sonny Weems and DeMar DeRozan and "organized a marketing campaign around them." The initiative, entitled "Young Onez," has its own website, but the experts said that it is not a "clever campaign that uses the internet effectively." Cherry said after visiting the website he "didn't know if the Young Onez were the three guys or if they were the youth supporting the Raptors." He added, "When you separate three (players) you’re comparing them to superstars ... in the era of the Big Three with the Celtics and the Big Three in Miami, why would you pick three people?" Strickland added the campaign "serves no real purpose." Strickland: "The Raptors haven’t connected the dots at all. When you see the link you don’t go 'Oh, that's the Raptors.' You go 'Young Onez? Okay, that must be a rap group.'" Phillips: "There's no explanation of what it really is about."

TAKING A GLOBAL VIEW: The team's roster "includes players from six countries," and the ad execs "agree the club needs to sell that multiculturalism." Cherry: "I would definitely tap into the international nature of the team and draw more support that way. I'd definitely leverage that, not as a key message but I'd do that above the Young Onez campaign." Anselmi said that the Raptors "are taking a multicultural approach to local marketing ... from planned theme nights to targeted ticket sales campaigns in Toronto's various ethnic communities" (TORONTO STAR, 11/1).

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