If there’s any company that can make the seemingly impossible leap from pizza parlour to massage parlour, it’s a proudly irreverent brand like Boston Pizza.
Just in time for game one of the NBA Finals Thursday, Boston Pizza unveiled the “BP Massage Bib,” a guerrilla marketing initiative referencing rapper Drake’s now infamous shoulder massage of Raptors head coach Nick Nurse during the Eastern Conference Finals.
The initiative, as well as a video being shared on Boston Pizza’s social channels (see below) was developed by the Toronto agency Mixtape, which turned the project around in just two days after receiving a brief from Boston Pizza on Monday.
“At first I was like ‘I don’t even know if that’s a good idea or not’ but we wrote it down,” says Mixtape’s executive creative director, partner Greg Shortall of the bib idea, which arose during an intense brainstorming session that followed Monday’s briefing. “David Ogilvy said that the best ideas start as jokes, and we’re big proponents of smart humour. We showed some ideas to the client, and they said ‘We love this one.'”
Shortall describes it as an attempt to inject some sorely needed levity into marketing. “There’s a really overly serious streak running through our industry at the moment,” he says. “Our approach is let’s make things that are funny and smart, and reward people for their time. Not everything needs to be cause-y and serious.”
Boston Pizza distributed approximately 10,000 bibs in its Toronto restaurants and around Scotiabank Arena and the Jurassic Park viewing area prior to tip-off. Although the bibs featured no Raptors branding, Scotiabank Arena is off-limits to Boston Pizza since its rival Pizza Pizza has status as the “Official Pizza of the Toronto Raptors.”
“It’s like the Super Bowl, where [brands say] ‘Come out and watch the big game,'” says Shortall. “We can’t overtly say Raptors, but there are always creative solutions [around] that sort of thing.”
Shortall says he doesn’t expect to encounter any pushback from Pizza Pizza or Raptors parent Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment regarding the program. “It’s a guerrilla tactic, but we’re sensitive to those things,” he says. “We were around the [arena] where it was appropriate and we didn’t try to get inside the arena itself, which I think would be crossing the line.
“Everything was appropriate and above-board, and rules and regulations were respected from that standpoint.”
Pizza Pizza’s vice-president of marketing Alyssa Huggins was at game one of the NBA Finals, but says she didn’t see the Boston Pizza activation. “I was at the game and didn’t see any evidence, but I certainly didn’t shake hands with 20,000+ people,” she said in an e-mail statement.