The Epicness of Toronto Sports Fans

April 30, 2018 Ophelie Zalcmanis-Lai

Last week on Wednesday, Toronto was THE place to be.

And that’s putting it mildly.

Not one. Not two, not even three. But FIVE of our sports teams were playing during the same evening. CityNews dubbed it “arguably the biggest night in Toronto sports history.”

The Raptors were playing Game 5 against the Washington Wizards at the ACC.

The Leafs were taking on the Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Toronto FC were in their CONCACAF champions league final.  

Blue Jays fans cheered their team on against division rivals the Red Sox.

And, in case there wasn’t enough stress around hockey already, the Toronto Marlies were also in round one of their playoff series.

Sadly, only The Raptors and Toronto FC were victorious (Leafs fans, our condolences – we know that was a hard loss). While this may all seem completely irrelevant from branding, marketing, or any other kind of business other than sports, it’s not.

That fateful night at Maple Leaf Square/Jurassic Park saw a massive fan tailgate party. Or in other words, a level of brand affinity like we’ve never seen.

This is what captured our minutes. Here’s why:

Toronto sports teams GET loyalty.

Other than being a huge spectacle for these major Toronto sports fans (may we recommend simply shutting down the city next time something like this happens?), this was such a huge night because of the level of meaningfulness it reached.

And isn’t that what every brand looks for? It’s one thing to have brand awareness (probably every Torontonian has heard of at least one of these teams).

It’s totally different when it comes to really connecting with audiences.

Let’s break this down.

  • Toronto sports teams bring together strangers and unite them for one common goal: you may tailgate with friends, but you’ll inevitably end up connecting with other fans too. This is what the teams want! The teams even shout out each other routinely on social media. When these fans start to connect, their power together is virtually unbreakable. Much more than a small boost to brand mentions, tags, views, etc.

  • These strangers then pour out their emotions to each other: Going all the way to Game 7 only to be eliminated when the third period comes along? It stung. It burned. It hurt bad. What are those feelings? They’re emotions. Raw and real feelings that are the very link that keep bringing these fans back to their favourite sports teams.

  • Those emotions strengthen the relationship between fans and team (or, in common terms, audiences and brands): Like what we said above, its these emotions that keep the love alive between fans and teams. Why? Because emotions are an opportunity for people to open up on more than a transactional level. Emotions are long-term.

  • That relationship is then sealed in a sea of blues, whites, reds, blacks, golds, silvers and even some purple (if you’re retro like that): want a metric to measure? Here’s your reach, embodied in fans that have proudly donned jerseys.

Put this all together and one has all the right ingredients for a long-term relationship, across seasons, team roster shake-ups, rebrands and the like.

At the end of the day, people don’t just want to be sold to. They want something more. Just like how fans don’t want their teams to see them as another number in a seat. Instead, people want to be inspired to feel – for better or worse.   

That’s the true core of brand affinity.

Big ups to the teams still making it through playoffs season, or even the beginning of their respective seasons. To the others, we’ve still got your back.

At the end of the day, people engage with content by lending their minutes. Content is successful when its battery is fully charged with attention.

What will win this week?


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