Kids get the spotlight in Club Maple Leafs

An initiative based around a new app and unique experiences hopes to create the next generation of Leafs fans.

It’s well known that in hockey, the Toronto Maple Leafs have the kinds of fans who have stuck with the team through the good times and the bad. But they are still looking to engage with kids in the hopes they will grow up to be the next generation of Maple Leafs fans with a new initiative dubbed Club Maple Leafs.

The new fan club aims to engage kids on multiple fronts, but is focused on a new digital platform. On the free Club Maple Leafs mobile app and web platform, young fans will be able to build their own player avatar as they track stats and schedules for the Leafs and test their knowledge with trivia games. They will also have access to exclusive, youth-focused Maple Leafs content, in-game experiences, apparel, ticket offers, events and contests.

Reid Black, senior director of marketing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, describes the new initiative as the “fan engagement” side of its broader youth marketing plan. The team’s other youth-focused work has previously been based on community outreach through things like hockey camps and clinics for minor hockey teams, as well as initiatives like Leafs Nation Fan Fest, which returns next weekend and had a large youth turnout at the inaugural event last year.

“So much of how behaviours of kids are changing is through mobile and digital tech,” Black says. “A mobile app and platform that speaks directly to kids was important because the way other fan clubs engage kids is by just doing one-off events or mailing out packages. This is an opportunity to develop a relationship with kids by engaging continuously with them.”

Black adds that the target for the club is kids aged five to 12, reaching them with a positive interaction at a time when kids typically decide who their favourite team is.

The other key element of the new club is bringing the kind of exclusive experiences through the app inside the arena. The club was launched this past Sunday with an event celebrating the 20th birthday of team mascot Carlton, which had things like face painting, balloon artists and magicians, while some kids were also able to go inside the Air Canada Centre and paint the ice for the upcoming season. Black says that kind of unique and authentic hockey experience exemplifies the kinds of things the Club will do throughout the season. During the upcoming season, the AHL’s Toronto Marlies will host “Club Maple Leafs” nights every Sunday at Ricoh Coliseum, and club members who are attending their first Maple Leafs game at the Air Canada Centre this season will be given special prize packages.

Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment has also partnered with children’s fashion retailer Carter’s OshKosh to run the “Ultimate Toronto Maple Leafs Birthday Party” contest, where one fan will win a Leafs-themed birthday party complete with visits from Carlton and Leafs players, as well as getting a birthday message displayed during a Leafs home game this season. Everyone who enters the contest and signs up for the club will also receive a 20% discount on their next purchase at a Carter’s OshKosh store.

“Partnering with [a brand] with a legacy in that age group makes the club a little more authentic, and when it comes to working together down the line, complements our outreach and makes our programs bigger through their scale and their resources as well,” Black says about working with Carter’s OshKosh.