Wealthsimple thinks small with stadium sponsorship

Robo-advisor service Wealthsimple set off a wave of speculation in Toronto this week with a cryptic tweet from its co-founder and CEO Michael Katchen announcing “something pretty monumental,” accompanied by an artist rendering of what looked like a new sports stadium.

The announcement was accompanied by a sponsored tweet from BlogTO (a site with a reputation for producing clickbait content) stating that Wealthsimple had secured naming rights for a stadium in Toronto’s downtown.

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With all of Toronto’s major sports franchises already safely ensconced in arenas/stadiums, the post led to excited online speculation that Wealthsimple Stadium would house everything from e-sports to cricket.

When Wealthsimple finally provided an answer on Thursday afternoon it was much smaller—literally—than expected: A tiny arena in the shadow of the Rogers Centre that it says is the size “of a large caesar salad.”

“We did the math on stadium sponsorship,” said the company in a blog post announcing the stadium. “We discovered that it’s not cheap to put your name on the place where people play sports.”

Stadium naming rights is indeed a costly business, and would have been decidedly at odds with Wealthsimple’s commitment to keeping clients’ fees low through what it calls an “almost obsessive eye” towards cost efficiency.

Scotiabank paid a reported $800 million to secure naming rights to Scotiabank Arena for 20 years, while financial institutions including Barclays and Citibank have all paid in the hundreds of millions of dollars for naming rights to U.S. stadiums.

The stunt was conceived and managed entirely in-house. Asked if there was any concern about consumers being irate by the misdirect, Wealthsimple’s executive creative director Mike Giepert said the company thought a lot about how people would respond.

“This campaign is meant to be very lighthearted in nature, but we think it’s important for people to question what their fees pay for,” he said in an e-mail statement to The Message. “As a brand, we love creating these provocations, especially if it means we can help people keep their fees low.”

The Wealthsimple Tiny Stadium, meanwhile, will be “open” to visitors until Aug. 24. “Swing by and we’ll take a photo that makes you look like you’re the size of Godzilla. And then just marvel at how tiny the thing is. Just like our fees,” said the blog post.

We don’t mind being played, Wealthsimple, but the hot dogs and beer had better be cheap.

Chris Powell