Marketing #WeTheNorth: Analyzing Fandom, Nationalism, and Brand Loyalty of the Toronto Raptors Basketball Team
thesisposted on 24.05.2021, 15:37 by Sasha C. Ricciuti
Established as a successful marketing slogan during the 2014 NBA playoffs, the #WeTheNorth campaign became the face of branding for the Toronto Raptors franchise that enhanced brand loyalty and unified Canadian basketball fans. The following Major Research Project (MRP) explores two different research questions surrounding a social media analysis of the Toronto Raptors #WeTheNorth campaign. The first research question examines the Raptors’ fan perspective, and focuses on the connotative messages that are incorporated into the #WeTheNorth campaign to broaden the team’s message and re-vamp the team’s national identity. The second research question examines the organization’s perspective and focuses on how the Raptors brand utilizes sports nationalism in their social media efforts to support fan engagement. This paper also reinforces research from previous academic findings that include: nationalism, community, collective fandom, social media, semiotics, and branding. Using an analytics tool named Sysomos, a content analysis of the Raptors’ official Twitter account was conducted to gather primary research. One Hundred Tweets were gathered per research question, and then coded to provide insight regarding the #WeTheNorth campaign from the 2018/19 NBA regular season. Findings for the first research question reinforce national fandom, and the support fan unification via the use of the #WeTheNorth hashtag. In addition, over 35% of Tweets from fans included positive sentiment, compared to the 17% that had negative sentiment. Findings for the second research question focus on branding, semiotics, and fan engagement levels that the Toronto Raptors social media team tries to enforce. Results proved that over 60% of Tweets included some form of request for fan participation, with 17% of Tweets containing positive Tweet sentiment. Overall, as long as the #WeTheNorth campaign remains the Raptors’ primary marketing slogan the campaign should continue to reinforce national fandom and support positive online fan engagement.