Raptors renew part of team turnaround plan

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The Toronto Raptors are courting fans in a new TV, radio, print and outdoor advertising campaign. Created by Toronto agency Field Day in conjunction with the NBA franchise’s in-house marketing team, the outdoor ads feature stark black-and-white pictures of Raptors players including Vince Carter, Antonio Davis and Alvin Williams. The word “renew” appears in each execution, paired with phrases such as “determination,” “hard work” and “dedication.” For example, one ad features Carter grimacing as he works out with weights; the word “renew” is paired with “determination.” Another shows Davis doing sit-ups with “renew”paired with “effort.” Tom Anselmi, senior VP/chief marketing officer for Raptors owner Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, says the “black, dark and edgy”creative is about “taking the shine off things.” “It’s about hard work and dedication,” says Anselmi, “as opposed to glitz and glamour.” The Raptors came within one win of going to the Eastern Conference finals in 2001, but missed the playoffs with what Anselmi deems an “unacceptable”24-58 record last season. “The campaign grew out of an overall analysis and strategic plan behind what we needed to do with the team to turn things around,” says Anselmi. “Out of that notion of turning things around operationally came the word ‘renew.’ We wanted to focus our message on what we are going to do to turn this thing around, not on some catchy phrase. We really wanted to speak to the effort at hand, which is to fix things.” Although the mass-media advertising debuted in mid-September, a direct mail piece featuring the “renew”creative was sent out to about 13,000 season ticket holders and new business prospects in August. Anselmi credits the creative with generating a season ticket renewal rate just above the league average of 80% and “significantly higher” than initial MLSE research had indicated. Anselmi says the Raptors are aiming for about 93% occupancy for their home games at the Air Canada Centre this season, a figure similar to last season. Media buying for the “renew” campaign was handled by Gaggi Media of Toronto.

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