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What Digital Marketers Can Learn From the NBA Playoffs

30 seconds left till the end of the game… Everyone is watching. Whether you like basketball or not, this month everyone turned into an expert. Raptors entering the playoffs has had a huge impact on Canadians, pop-culture and society. Credit- and debit-processing firm Moneris says transactions increased by 14% in Canada during last week’s Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Almost everywhere you look now has a Raptors logo slapped on it, from merchandising to Real Estate. In order for the modern company to succeed in the era of GIFs and Memes, it is necessary to collide with pop culture.

Take a look below to see how the Raptors impacted marketing this month.

Real Estate

The real estate industry has plunged into the Raptors madness this month as well. Toronto is pushing for Kawhi Leonard to move to the city- no matter what it takes. Numerous real estate companies have been offering to sponsor Kawhi properties free of charge. Real estate brokerage The Condo Store Realty Inc. is offering Kawhi his choice of several multi-million dollar value penthouse condos in downtown Toronto for free. This has driven a significant amount of attention towards the brokerage and promoted their brand.


This year the Raptors have reached the playoff finals for the first time. Now what’s the business impact? Many reputable brands are taking advantage of the fans’ loyalty and marketing themselves based on the Raptors. In their most recent Ad, McDonald’s removed their iconic “golden arches” out of respect to Toronto fans and replaced it with Raptors colours. Canadian fans were loving the public acknowledgment and responded to the Ad with appreciation and promises to return to McDonalds. One point for the Raptors, three for the McDonald’s digital marketing strategy.

Another promotion this company did was a giveaway. If the Raptors score 12 3- pointers or more, you score FREE medium fries. This tactic drew a lot of traffic into stores and raised profits for McDonald’s while increasing brand awareness.


Uber definitely hopped into the digital marketing madness of the playoffs. Investing a lot of money to be a sponsor, fans noticed UberEats increase their marketing. Utilizing video marketing, UberEats strived to prove they feed the raptors and are willing to feed the fans too. The videos enticed fans to choose this brand as their number one delivery service during the playoffs. Furthermore, their social media activism increased to better promote their services during the playoffs. As the cities flood with fans during games, they need the reassurance that their delivery provider will service them. The purpose of UberEats’ social media advertising is to market their promo codes on both rides and food deliveries.

Kawhi, New Balance & Social Media

New Balance played a smart move and saw the opportunity associated with player Kawhi Leonard. Together they partnered on a limited-edition shoe designed with the aid of Kawhi. Announced via one of the most famous social media platforms, Instagram, the shoe went on sale and sold out within 6 minutes. It was thanks to the digital push and the aid of social media that allowed New Balance to gain popularity. Talk about a win-win.

New Balance Global Director of Consumer Marketing Patrick Cassidy, talked about the importance of capitalizing on social media. “Everything we want to do is digital first, primarily social first. Part of our thing is telling the story of who Kawhi Leonard is through a social-first lens.We had a launch video that dropped during All-Star Weekend and it caught people by surprise. ” Knowing how to manipulate social media, is what lead to New Balance’s immense success with the Raptors.

Safe to say, the Raptors are changing the marketing world. Pop-culture, trends and media directly collide with digital marketing. They impact sponsorships, endorsements, digital advertisements and increase brand awareness. A successful marketer is one who notices a trend and learns how to advertise based off that.