SBD/April 17, 2014/Franchises

Raptors Launch New "We The North" Campaign As First Step In Team's Rebranding

The Raptors have launched a new campaign, dubbed "We The North," which features a 60-second video that "kicks off a massive franchise rebrand over the next two years," according to Gregory Strong of the NATIONAL POST. The video is "not meant to be an advertisement for a team preparing to make its first playoff appearance in six years." Instead, the franchise wants the campaign "to serve as a foundation for a team revolution." MLSE President & CEO Tim Leiweke said, "This is the statement we want to make to Canada and I think this is the chip we have, which is we're the north and there's no one else." He added, "This is a crusade now. This is not just a rally cry, this is, I think, our identity." Leiweke said that the team is "still finalizing release plans for other components of the campaign." But he added new colors and a new logo will be rolled out "in short order." Leiweke said that rapper and Raptors global ambassador Drake "was 'heavily involved' in the inspiration for the spot." Strong notes in the video, clips of the city skyline are "mixed with snippets of basketball action from local neighbourhoods and highlights of the Raptors in action" (NATIONAL POST, 4/17). Leiweke said that the spot "was supposed to be revealed next year, as part of the 20th anniversary celebrations," but he and Raptors President of Basketball Operations & GM Masai Ujiri "liked it too much." Leiweke said he and Ujiri "were in love with it because we believe it’s a perfect description and image and tribute to our team and their blue collar, hard work, proud of Toronto." Leiweke: "We don’t care what anybody says about us in the States, we love being here" (TORONTO SUN, 4/17). The GLOBE & MAIL's Cathal Kelly writes of the video, "Whatever you make of it, you will admit the last word it summons to mind is 'corporate.' This feels like work produced by an especially athletic art school" (GLOBE & MAIL, 4/17).

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: Leiweke yesterday said that an announcement pertaining to a "new, state-of-the-art practice home for the Raptors" should be coming by May. He added, "We’re pretty much close to an agreement in principle. Part of what I promised [Ujiri] was the ability to announce it in the next couple of weeks. We want to have it done in time for the 2016 all-star game. ... We want it to be close to downtown, because that’s where most of the players live. It will be good for everybody. When we announce it, everybody will be very happy" (TORONTOSUN.com, 4/16).
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