Why The Toronto Maple Leafs Donning Green Jerseys For St. Patrick’s Day Is Actually Kind Of Genius
With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, the Toronto Maple Leafs just announced that they will wear the green jerseys of the Toronto St. Pats in a game against the Chicago Blackhawks to celebrate. What’s more, 2017 is the team’s centennial year so they’ll have much more to celebrate than good ol’ St. Patty’s. St. Patrick’s day attire is a tradition taken up by most teams in the NHL but for the Maple Leafs, it’s more about nostalgia than it is tradition. The mighty “Blue & White” were once called the St. Pats and wore green and white uniforms. The team was named after the Toronto St. Patrick’s Ontario Hockey Association which, at the time, had purchased the cash-strapped Toronto Arenas. The team remained the St. Pats, donning green and white with pride until 1927 when Conn Smythe took over the team and rebranded them.
The Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t the only ones jumping on the St. Patrick’s Day bandwagon – this is actually a yearly occurrence in the NHL. No one has better capitalized on the widespread popularity of St. Patrick’s Day than the National Hockey League. The league is one of the most popular professional sports leagues on the planet, with hordes of faithful fans. This allows them to engage their consumers through interesting marketing, branding, and merchandising campaigns.
The NHL currently has 555 different St. Patrick’s Day-themed pieces of merchandise. While we see it as a pretty genius branding strategy (not to mention a fantastic additional revenue stream), this has been a point of contention for many who see it as an obvious ploy that has nothing to do with the sport. And while it may seem like a money grab, the St. Pats story at least makes the Maple Leafs’ campaign a a little more genuine.
That aside, the league’s use of St. Patrick’s branded colors is an incredible way to tap into a pre-existing consumer base and give them something new to be excited about. Making minor changes to NHL merchandise not only re-engages the consumer, but gives them cause for celebration. Essentially, the consumer becomes reinvigorated about consuming the exact same content and/or merchandise they always have. The game doesn’t change, the teams don’t change, only the colors do. If you break it down from a marketing and merchandising perspective, this is a strong campaign top to bottom, one that many brands can take note of.
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