Curling Canada gets fans to throw stones from home

Pots and Roombas stand in for rocks as the organization keeps its community strategy going while sports are cancelled.

Curling-CanadaWith curling matches currently on ice, Curling Canada is reminding fans that the sport can be done from the comfort of one’s own home and still foster a sense of togetherness.

In a new spot airing during TSN’s “Curling Encore” series, which shows highlights of finishes from the Scotties Tournament of Hearts and The Tim Hortons Brier, Canadians hunkering down due to COVID-19 improvise rocks using stock pots, Roombas, hockey pucks and toilet paper rolls to recreate their favourite pastime. It ends with the tagline: “Thanks for playing at home. Thanks for staying at home.”

In addition to the TV ads – created by Cossette – running nationally in English and French, the campaign is encouraging fans to show off creative methods for at-home play through Curling Canada’s social channels using the hashtag “#keepcurling.” Curlers like John Epping and Jennifer Price have rallied to the cause and are going to participate online, as are local curling clubs nationwide.

Like most sports, curling has had to cancel or postpone all of its major events, and a lack of tournaments means fans are in withdrawal. In addition to local clubs being closed, the men’s, women’s and mixed doubles World Curling Championships were all cancelled, as were the Princess Auto Players’ Championship and Humpty’s Champions Cup.

According to Kathy Henderson, CEO of Curling Canada, the organization “is always looking for ways to celebrate the sense of camaraderie and fun that is so unique to our sport.” She says when it noticed Canadians organically posting videos of how they are keeping up with curling at home, “it was a natural next step for us to find a way to celebrate this and stand in solidarity with our fans during this difficult time.”

With its most recent campaign, Curling Canada has been moving away from educating newbies to highlighting how close fans can be to the action during a match, and the sense of community that creates.

That’s in service of Curling Canada’s broader mandate, which is “getting more curlers and helping them curl better” (according to the group’s National Curling Club Survey, a nearly equal number of curling clubs have seen their membership increase as decrease since 2010 – 35% vs 34%). This campaign is an effort to keep that community engaged, as well as get people looking for ways to pass the time to consider something new.

Henderson tells strategy the campaign was not a pivot; the organization typically advertises in the fall and winter when the sport is more popular, however this was a unique opportunity due to the special programming running on TSN. “Curling has always been a winter sport, but based on our social-media activity, it’s clear there is year-round interest.”