TD Waterhouse makes landmark sports deal

A power-play goal by Mats Sundin. A slam-dunk by Vince Carter. These moments and more are now proudly brought to you by TD Waterhouse Investor Services....

A power-play goal by Mats Sundin. A slam-dunk by Vince Carter. These moments and more are now proudly brought to you by TD Waterhouse Investor Services.

In a landmark deal completed earlier this month, the Toronto-based discount brokerage has signed on as title sponsor for the next three Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors seasons.

The contract with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment effectively makes TD Waterhouse the presenting sponsor for all Leafs and Raptors home games.

While season sponsorships have been commonplace in the performing arts community for several years now, this is considered a first for professional team sports in Canada.

The deal represents part of an aggressive North American sports and celebrity marketing program intended to build awareness for the TD Waterhouse brand.

John See, vice-chair of TD Waterhouse, says hockey and basketball are perfect vehicles for reaching the brokerage’s target market – an upper-income, well-educated audience that skews male.

As title sponsor for the Leafs and Raptors seasons, the TD Waterhouse brand will be prominent inside the Air Canada Centre, as well as on TV and radio broadcasts, on printed materials such as tickets and programs, and in advertising for both teams.

In addition, the brokerage will have title sponsorship of two elite areas within the Air Canada Centre – the Platinum Concourse and the Platinum Club restaurant.

The TD Waterhouse Fan Zone, an interactive game and activity facility within the arena, will be unveiled later this fall. See says the company will also lend support to some of the teams’ grassroots efforts, such as the Leafs@School community outreach program, and a new project that the Raptors plan to announce in a few weeks.

According to sports marketing experts, title sponsorship of a team’s entire season is the sort of creative concept that’s likely to become a lot more commonplace in the discipline.

By presenting Leafs and Raptors games, TD Waterhouse will get a lot more than just some exposure for its logo, says Sean Cunningham, marketing and business development manager for Toronto-based sports marketing firm Bronskill & Co., which is working on the Fan Zone project.

Through such intimate involvement with the teams in their hometown venue, the brokerage will create a much more powerful brand association in the minds of consumers. ‘They’re really giving experiences that go beyond impressions,’ Cunningham says.

Michael Gouinlock, president of The GEM Group, a Toronto-based sponsorship marketing firm, agrees.

The TD Waterhouse deal, he says, reflects the current thinking in the sports marketing field, which is that sponsorship should involve more of a partnership between advertiser and property, rather than just the purchase of on-site signage and airtime on broadcasts.

‘The best sponsorships are where you work together in a joint co-operative relationship,’ Gouinlock says.

TD Waterhouse is the product of a merger last July between Canada’s largest discount brokerage, Green Line Investor Services (the discount brokerage arm of TD Bank Financial Group) and New York-based Waterhouse.

The company launched itself into the sports marketing arena soon after the deal, in an effort to build recognition of the newly-created brand.

The brokerage now has naming rights to the TD Waterhouse Center arena in Orlando, Fla. (home to the Orlando Magic). It is also title sponsor of a Senior PGA Tour event in Kansas City, Mo., and has branded stock tickers in a number of Major League Baseball parks.