As the Toronto Raptors get set to start an NBA playoff run that seemed unlikely even a few months ago, a new ad campaign appears to trumpet the city as much as its team.
Titled #WeTheNorth, the ad promotes the Raptors as outliers in the U.S.-dominated NBA.
"One step removed, just beyond the boundaries," says the narrator over shots of the city and pickup players doing battle on snow-covered courts. "Some would say we're on the outside looking in."
The ad was created with input from Drake, a Toronto native and international hip-hop music superstar who joined the team last fall as a global ambassador tasked with re-branding the team.
On Saturday the Raptors will play their first playoff game in six years, taking on the Brooklyn Nets at the Air Canada Centre to start a best-of-seven series.
Globe and Mail sports writer Cathal Kelly wrote about the team's new ad campaign in a column in this morning's edition.
Kelly also appeared on CBC Radio's Metro Morning Thursday to speak about the new attitude in Raptorland. He told host Matt Galloway that an Atlantic Division title for Toronto seemed almost inconceivable, even as recently as Christmas.
Kelly said when star forward Rudy Gay was traded in December it created room that has allowed other Raptors on the roster to shine.
"Given where they were in December, this was a bit of a shock," said Kelly. "I know the team didn't see this coming."
Kelly said the #WeTheNorth ad campaign was created with close input from Drake.
"This is positioning for the future, these are the Drake Raptors," he said. "I think the whole NBA is changing. The grand powers no longer hold the same allure."