Scotiabank makes a loud pledge to support diversity in hockey

"Canada's hockey bank" puts inclusion at the centre of a new platform, launched by showing the discrimination some players have faced.

2. PK Subban

Scotiabank has launched a new platform that puts fixing a major issue within the sport at the centre of its hockey marketing going forward.

“Canada is an amazingly diverse country. You have people from so many different backgrounds who call this place home, and it’s what we’re known for as a nation. But when you look at hockey, the beloved national sport of ours, I don’t think it has been the most diverse,” says Dhaval Bhatt, partner and CD at Rethink, which developed the platofrm. “That was an interesting point of tension, and there is an opportunity to make the game more accessible to everyone.”

To put it simply: hockey looks very white, very straight and very male. And despite the efforts of teams and leagues, that perception doesn’t always create the most welcoming environment for potential players and fans who don’t fit that mold.

But Scotiabank is one of the largest sponsors of hockey in the country, including naming rights for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ arena, individual deals with most Canadian NHL teams and ads during broadcasts of Hockey Night in Canada. That has all laddered up to it positioning itself as “Canada’s hockey bank” – and everything that comes with it.

“They have a responsibility to not just celebrate the game but make sure it thrives for years to come,” says Bhatt.

5. Harrison BrowneThe company is aiming to deliver on that responsibility with their new campaign platform, “Hockey For All.” Launched alongside the NHL’s 2021/22 regular season on Tuesday, a 60-second TV spot and online video featuring talent including NHL stars P.K. Subban and Ethan Bear; NWHA player Harrison Browne, the first openly transgender athlete in professional hockey; Paralympic gold medallist and world champion Billy Bridges and Jayna Hefford, a retired women’s hockey player and four-time Olympic gold medallist.

The spot features real, discriminatory comments those athletes and others have faced over their careers in sport, because “sometimes reality is so much more startling compared to what we could imagine,” says Bhatt.

“It is extremely important that, if we’re going to do something like this, we reflect on the experiences people have had, and be honest and truthful,” he adds. “Not only so people who have experienced this can watch and recognize it, but also, so perpetrators can see it and think about how they did something harmful.”

The bank is backing the platform with a pledge to contribute $2 million over the next year to programs that will increase diversity and inclusion among grassroots hockey organizations across the country. That pledge builds upon other efforts Scotiabank has taken to support diversity in the sport, including partnerships with the Hockey Diversity Alliance and Project North and the Scotiabank Girls HockeyFest, among other efforts.

The platform’s launch is supported by in-branch and in-arena signage featuring photos shot by New York Times photojournalist Roy Baizan, as well as several 30-second documentary-style videos showcasing the stories of real athletes who have succeeded in the face of adversity.

This campaign is just the beginning of “Hockey For All,” however.

“This platform will live on as long as Scotiabank continues to be a part of hockey, because the work of making the game accessible to all is not going to be done in a year or even in five years,” says Bhatt.