BMO’s Real-Time Activation Of Raptors NBA Play-Off Games

The Bank Of Montreal Financial Group (BMO) is amplifying its Toronto Raptors sponsorship via low latency experiential work as Canada’s only NBA team enters the play-offs after its best regular season ever.


The bank is taking advantage of the positive sentiment around the team and interest in the higher-profile games with a play-off push that focuses on experiential work and rolling out quick-turnaround content and ads that tie-in to live game-related events.


The brand backed a tailgate party before the Raptors’ first playoff game against the Brooklyn Nets and the presenting sponsor is running TV ads on TSN’s broadcast of the match.


Within the arena itself BMO ensured heavy logo presence on the 23,000 rally towels handed out to fans as they entered the Air Canada Centre, while BMO clients entering via the exclusive customer fast ‘blue line entrance were given surprise food and beverage vouchers.


BMO is also running in-store, in-bank activity across its Toronto branches – which include dance pack appearances.


Employees are being offered pre-sale play-off tickets and are wearing Raptors playoff T-shirt while distributing customer giveaways


The sponsor has also been active across its social channels and is working with MLSE on Twitter.


‘It’s very in the moment, very organic, very grassroots, in some ways almost guerrilla marketing,’ says BMO VP Marketing Justine Fedak.


‘We’re here because the fans are passionate, and we’re passionate about the excitement that’s generated when these moments occur. We are really activating against that,’ adds Fedek.


The majority of the BMO Raptors work, much of which features the tagline ‘Proud sponsor, has been created by BMO’s in-house sponsorship team.


‘It’s a really active and exciting time to have an asset to activate, because you really to have to day by day be coming up with new ideas,’ Fedak comments.


The TV commercials themselves were developed with BMO’s new lead agency Young & Rubicam (which replaced previous incumbent Cossette last year).




The timing seems perfect for BMO to amplify its Raptors activation.


Not only have the team reached the play-offs for the first time in six years, but the franchise itself has also released a major new marketing campaign ( see previous case study ‘We Are North) which further increases positive sentiment and media coverage of the team.


Furthermore, the popularity of basketball in Canada continues to rise – with a 19% increase in TV viewers over the past year.


There are now 6.7 million NBA fans across the country and 57% of them are under the age of 35 (suggesting the sport is becoming more popular with new, young Canadians).


BMO, which has strong sports sponsorship ties that also include partnerships with the the Chicago Bulls and the Milwaukee Bucks and with MLS team Toronto FC (where it has naming rights at the soccer stadium BMO Field), is the title sponsor of Canada’s NBA team and the official bank of the Toronto Raptors.


In late October, the Raptors and BMO Financial Group announced a multi-year partnership that saw the bank join as title sponsor in a deal that built further on an existing long-time partnership between BMO and the team’s parent company Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.


‘Basketball has established itself as one of the most popular participation sports among Canadian youth, and the future of the game in this country is even brighter,’ said Joanna Rotenberg, Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Strategy, BMO Financial Group.


‘We are thrilled to build on the exciting momentum around the Raptors, including the team’s upcoming twentieth anniversary and the NBA All Star Game coming to Toronto in 2016. This ideal partnership extends the BMO brand with the NBA in Canada and the US – we are also major sponsors of the Chicago Bulls and the Milwaukee Bucks.’


As a new Raptors’ platinum partner, BMO has major in-arena presence (which includes the bank’s branding on the basketball court floor) and on broadcasts for Raptors games.


BMO and the Raptors also team up to offer new products and team related services to the bank’s customers, plus an exclusive BMO customer entrance to Raptors games and discounts on tickets and merchandise.


It also backs the ‘BMO Raptors Mobile Fan Zone’, a replica Raptor dressing room which tours around communities across Canada.


At grassroots level the bank and the team offer Toronto community basketball programs and clinics with players teaching and greeting young local players and fans (something it also does at BMO Field with Toronto FC and via its BMO youth soccer programs across Canada).


A BMNO supported initiative sees 10 local charities invited as guests through the season to watch pre-game warm-ups, meet players and attend games.


‘BMO recognises the growing power of basketball in Canada and the fantastic opportunity we have to work together as partners to bring the game to fans at all levels, much like we’ve been able to do together with soccer,’ says  David Hopkinson, Chief Commercial Officer at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.


‘We have seen record numbers for basketball participation and viewership across the country over the past year, and we are thrilled to team up with a premier partner like BMO to bring Raptors NBA basketball to our fans.’




BMO Website



Toronto Raptors Website



Maple Leaf Sport & Entertainment Website



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