BMO Ball

BMO’s ‘Ball-Star’ hits the court for All-Star Weekend

Bank's marketing also includes a 10-foot tall ATM

BMO is having a ball with its sponsorship of the NBA All-Star Game.

The financial services company this week introduced “The BMO Ball-Star,” an anthropomorphic basketball in its signature blue-and-white that is promising to provide fans with a basketball’s perspective of the weekend All-Star festivities.

The “Ball-Star,” who traces his roots back to the first-ever NBA game (which took place in Toronto in 1946) is featured in a 45-second TV spot airing this week on TSN, Sportsnet and NBA TV.

He also appears in a series of online shorts including “Spin,” which features the “Ball Star” getting dizzy after being spun on a player’s finger, and  “Shot Blocker,” which sees him giving his opinion on shot blockers (“Do you like getting slapped in the face?”).

The “Ball-Star” also appeared at a press conference on Thursday, and will be live-tweeting both the All-Star Saturday Night event and Sunday’s All-Star Game using the hashtag #BMOBallStar.

Connie Stefankiewicz, chief marketing officer for BMO Financial Group, said the Ball-Star took the company’s brand positioning into “very unique” territory that differentiates it from its competitors. “It’s a little bit cheeky, very irreverent and very authentic,” she said.

The “Ball-Star” is part of a full-court press by BMO for the first All-Star Game held outside the U.S. The weekend is expected to attract up to 200 international broadcasters, a galaxy of stars including Drake, Kevin Hart and Usher, while generating up to $100 million for the Toronto economy.

BMO launched its sponsorship of NBA Canada last fall with a campaign entitled “Bank that Knows Ball,” which featured a series of basketball-playing youngsters questioning what a bank could know about basketball-specific terms like the “alley-oop” or a “rock.” The spot concludes with a voiceover saying it knows one thing about basketball: It teaches kids the skills needed to win both in sport and in life.

ATM 2BMO also garnered significant attention this week by installing a 10-foot tall ATM outside its corporate headquarters at Toronto’s First Canadian Place bearing the message “The NBA All-Stars are coming.” While the ATM is real, it will not be dispensing any money.

The ATM has been featured in media reports as well as blog posts and social media feeds. Stefankiewicz said it has generated 23 million impressions since debuting earlier this week.

Jon Flannery, chief creative officer for BMO’s agency FCB Toronto, said the ATM ad’s easy-to-grasp concept was what contributed to its enormous success. “It’s such a simple idea – you don’t have to explain too much behind it to get it,” he said.

Flannery said the All-Star Game creative was an extension of the company’s new “BMO Effect” brand platform that rolled out last month.

“Everything is based on the fact that BMO looks at banking differently than most banks – instead of seeing a human transaction they see a human interaction,” said Flannery. “It just made sense they would look at the game of basketball, and the All-Star in particular, through a different lens.”

Stefankiewicz said there would be significant interest in the All-Star Game among key BMO targets such as millennials, but the game’s celebrity appeal and the fact it is taking place outside the U.S. for the first time in its history, would help it transcend the sport’s core fan-base.


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