Royal Bank/CBC Skating `a good reputational fit’

Judging skating, like tallying your bank account's debits and credits, demands little more than an eye for detail and a lot of number-crunching.At least that's the message the Royal Bank and the cbc communicated to viewers recently during the World Figure...

Judging skating, like tallying your bank account’s debits and credits, demands little more than an eye for detail and a lot of number-crunching.

At least that’s the message the Royal Bank and the cbc communicated to viewers recently during the World Figure Skating Championships in Japan.

Royal Bank acted as the sponsor of a series of cbc-produced features called You Be the Judge, which ran on the network during the skating championships held March 22-27.

Dan Sherrett, head of corporate sponsorship at cbc, says the interactive promotion, which encouraged viewers to score along with the judges, was not only designed to help get them more involved in the event, but also to eliminate the mystery surrounding judging.

Sherrett says the features helped to teach viewers how to score on technical merit and in terms of artistic impression, including marks for jump combinations, spins, footwork and on choreography, among other things.

Peter Case, vice-president of advertising at Royal Bank, says the promotion also allowed Royal Bank to continue its longstanding association with amateur sport, while more closely affiliating itself with an upscale target market, similar to its own.

‘It’s a good reputational fit,’ Case says.

‘Skating is classy,’ he says. ‘It also delivers a good audience with a wide age range, which is a little more upscale. You’d be surprised at the number of male executives who watch it.’

The series of 30-second spots – nine, in total – were hosted by Jean Senft, a cbc color commentator and world-class figure skating judge, who recently acted as the Canadian judge at the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.

Not only did the features give viewers a slow-motion look at how each of the jumps should be performed, they also instructed them in the number of points deducted for a fall, for example, or for a hand touching the ice.

The features were also branded with cbc and Royal Bank logos, and tagged with the line, ‘Sponsored by Royal Bank.’

Case says Royal Bank believed the features were ‘an excellent idea because judging in figure skating has largely been misunderstood.

‘We would really like to educate people and reduce some of that confusion,’ he says.

Scorecards were made available to tv viewers at Royal Bank branches across the country, along with a promotional brochure, explaining what the features were all about.

Royal Bank designed and printed all of the promotional materials.

Sherrett says the in-branch literature, together with a series of announcements which ran before the World Championships informing viewers the special features would be aired, were meant to drive people to the competition.

He says, for cbc, the most important objective was to provide another reason for viewers to tune into the competition.

‘We thought it would enhance the program by involving them interactively,’ Sherrett says.

But to produce the spots, he says it needed a sponsor.

During the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, cbc had co-produced, along with Coca-Cola Canada, a number of features on Canadian skaters which had proven successful.

Sherrett says with so much controversy surrounding skating judging, the judging features seemed like a natural progression.

‘After coming up with the idea to produce the spots, we went to our existing group of media sponsors to find out if any of them would be interested in participating,’ he says.

‘The Royal Bank seemed like a natural fit because of their past interest in amateur sport.’

Case says Royal Bank has acted as a sponsor of the World Skating Championships in the past and has also sponsored learn-to-skate programs.

For the bank, the features allowed it to target young skaters, and to build brand awareness on what Case calls a ‘good media property.

‘This type of promotion is new for us, but we’re very enthusiastic,’ he says.

‘However, it isn’t something we would be doing had we not had a longstanding interest in figure skating.’