Eskimos unleash their empire

A new campaign from The Hive primes an already active fan base for the upcoming season.

The Edmonton Eskimos CFL franchise has unveiled a new campaign and rallying cry for fans as part of a build up to its 2017/18 season.

A campaign built around the tagline “One Empire” was crafted by Toronto agency The Hive, which won the Eskimos’ account as part of a competitive review that launched in December.

The new 40-second TV spot debuted last week during an Edmonton Oilers’ NHL playoff match. It shows fans and Eskimos team members taking to the field at Commonwealth Stadium and charging a line of black-clad football players.

Real fans were invited to take part in the April shoot, with hundreds turning out wearing team merchandise and face paint. The black-clad opposing team was cast from the University of Alberta’s football team (the alma mater of The Hive’s president and CEO Rick Shaver), making the spot “a real community effort,” Shaver says.

Edmonton has one of the best-supported CFL teams with average attendance last season reaching over 30,900 – the second highest in the league. However, the team’s Commonwealth stadium is also the league’s largest with a capacity of more than 56,000.

“That’s an opportunity,” says Rose Phillip, the team’s VP of marketing and communications. “Because we’ve got this capacity, we can harness fandom in a different way and increase ticket sales at the same time.”

Shaver says even though the launch spot is meant to strike an emotional chord with fans to build engagement, the team is looking to bolster season ticket sales with the new campaign. The rest of the effort will roll out in full during the team’s pre-season in June. “One Empire” will be appearing on OOH, radio, in cinema and social channels. Merchandise bearing the new rallying cry is already available.

The Eskimos had been handling marketing in-house prior to the December agency review. But Phillip sought “fresh eyes” to create work that was “different but elevated… if we keep doing everything the same, we’ll get the same results.”