The Toronto Maple Leafs have some of hockey’s most die-hard fans. They’re also one of the NHL’s longest suffering fanbases.
Despite the franchises storied past, the team hasn’t won a title in 55 years, and until this week haven’t advanced beyond the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs in 19 years. Three of the team’s most recent early exits were the result of monumental collapses at the hands of the Boston Bruins.
Not surprisingly, the Bruins are one of the Leafs’ biggest rivals. So when the Maple Leafs finally made it through to the second round of the NHL playoffs on Saturday, and the Bruins suffered their own epic collapse, Boston Pizza—which ironically has no connection to its namesake city— saw an opportunity to show its support for Canada’s most popular hockey team while also mocking the Leafs bitter rivals.
On Monday, a billboard popped up on Toronto’s busiest expressway, The Gardiner, proudly declaring that “Boston’s out, Auston’s in,” accompanied by an unofficial franchise name change from “Boston Pizza” to “Auston Pizza.” Auston, of course, is the first name of Auston Matthews, the former #1 overall pick who has been a major part of the Leafs’ recent success.
“Our Fanalytics campaign is centred around research and optimization. Our marketing research indicates that fans are more inclined to visit sports bars that exude a sense of shared fandom,” says Niels Van Oyen, Director of Marketing at Boston Pizza. “We created this billboard to speak directly to our Toronto audience and demonstrate that we are fully committed to supporting them throughout the playoffs. We also acknowledge the significance of Toronto’s advancement and the rarity of their bitter rivals losing in a heartbreaking series.”
The idea is part of an overarching national campaign from Boston Pizza, created by john st., showcasing the franchise’s use of “BP Fanalytics” (akin to advanced sports analytics) to help create a playoff menu and environment that allows sports fans to perform at their peak. This name change was yet another tweak as the campaign gains playoff momentum.
“The BP Fanalytics campaign is all about studying and calibrating the BP fan experience to help them perform at an elite level,” says Cam Boyd, Executive Creative Director at john st. “When we looked at the fact that Boston has no further relevance in the 2023 playoffs (sorry not sorry), and Toronto has finally made it beyond the first round, Fanalytics clearly indicated that this billboard and accompanying name change was the right play.”
Title: BP Fanalytics
Client: Boston Pizza Canada
SVP, Marketing: Peter Blackwell
VP, Marketing: James Kawalecki
Director of Marketing: Niels van Oyen
Marketing Manager: Sean Megna
Associate Marketing Manager: Kenrick Phillip
Agency: john st.
Executive Creative Director: Cam Boyd
ACD, Copywriter: Jimmy Wei
ACD, Art Director: Jon Barnes
Copywriter: Emma Lorenzi
Copywriter: Curtis Chapman
Art Director: Ben Nusca
Designer: Caio Oyafuso
Producer: Erin Feldman
Chief Strategy Officer: Matt Ball
EVP Accounts: Tishan Canagasaby
Account Director: Harjot Tatla
Account Executive: Ankita Surendan
French Language Campaign
Agency: Rue John
Copywriter: Martin Rivard
Executive Producer: Brittani Wilcox
Production Company: Skin and Bones
Directors: Shawn Z
Executive Producer: Joan Bell
Line Producer: Neil Bartley
Editor: Mel Hider
Producer: Mackenzie Goodwin
Online: Darling VFX
Audio: Grayson Mathews