It’s not news to anyone that most sports fans in Canada have one perception of the CFL, and one perception only: “No one cares.” However, CFL Commissioner Jeffrey Orridge – and his determined marketing team – have ushered in a new logo, a new slogan (“What we’re made of”), and ultimately, a new attitude towards the CFL from coast-to-coast.
Now, from a personal perspective, it’s easy to say the CFL has some of the most devoted fans in Canada towards any professional sports league. The problem is those fans are old, and only getting older. And in correlation, the number of those fans are small, and only getting smaller. I grew up with a diehard Toronto Argonauts fan: My dad. He will be 60 years old next November. “Papa Pazzano” is a prime example of the average CFL fan: A man who loves his football, buys season tickets for the games, but realizes the seats around him are getting emptier and emptier year after year.
I have been to a lot of Argos games at the Rogers Centre with my dad over the last decade or so, and it’s been interesting to see first-hand the huge decline in game attendance over that period of time. I remember being nine years old (so, 2003) and I would look up at that huge jumbotron and hearing the game announcer yelling, “We have 18,360 fans in the dome today! Thank you fans!” Flashing forward to 2015, I remember going to an Argos game in September with him, being able to literally ‘count’ the people in attendance, and hearing the announcer pointing out an attendance number under 4,000 people (there were a lot of blue seats, as you could imagine). If you do the math, that’s an average game attendance decline of around 14,000 people within a twelve-year span.
That’s not saying that significant kind of decline is occurring in all CFL venues – the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Saskatchewan Roughriders are still booming in attendance and overall revenue – but for the other 7 of the 9 CFL teams, this kind of overall attendance decline has become very concerning. This is exactly why the CFL decided to “pound the alarm” with some recent re-branding. They want ‘younger’ CFL fans to fill up all those blue seats across the country, and start to pull their attention away from the NFL – the only football league that young, Canadian football fans pay any attention to.
If you take a look at the new CFL teaser video below, it visualizes the re-positioning in which the minor-league football brand is trying to hammer to ‘younger’ Canadian football fans. With this video, the CFL is simply trying to incorporate the “heart and hustle” vibe in all NFL teasers and NFL-endorsed commercials for products like Bose Speakers. They are using that “heart and hustle” vibe – complete with montages of notable CFL players doing intense cardio and diehard fans waving giant team flags out of their cars before the “big game” with contemporary hip-hop music in the background – as the ultimate tool to persuade a younger core of football fans to starting caring about the CFL.
“New CFL” Teaser Video
The goal of this teaser – and its “heart and hustle” vibe – is to alter young people’s perception of the CFL to be more similar to their perception of the NFL: A ‘meaningful’ game with ‘intense’ players and fans that you can talk about with your friends for hours during a beers-and-wings night at your local Shoeless Joe’s.
Anthony Pazzano is currently an Advertising and Marketing Communications student at Humber College. He is looking forward to expand his knowledge and experience in the Advertising/Marketing industry, and aspires to work client-side, agency-side, or for a PR firm. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Connect with him on LinkedIn