MLSE puts star athletes’ words in fans’ mouths for PlayStation campaign

Who: Sony Interactive Entertainment (PlayStation brand) and MLSE’s Global Partnership team.

What: “Double Take,” a new campaign promoting the PS5 game system and its hockey and basketball titles. The creative uses PlayStation’s global tagline, “Play has no limits.”

When & Where: The campaign broke this week, running throughout the month on broadcast, digital and social media.

Why: It’s all about showcasing the immersive play experience offered to gamers through the PS5 (even though the highly sought-after console remains widely unavailable through major retailers). It’s designed to show how that feeling of being completely immersed in the action can temporarily transform gamers into star athletes.

The campaign is part of what is described as an ongoing “multi-tiered” partnership between MLSE and the PlayStation brand. Other elements include behind-the-scenes content, and invites to participate in gaming contests for a chance to win PlayStation and team prizes. As a longtime sponsor of both the Leafs and Raptors, PlayStation branding can currently be seen across a variety of in-arena locations during telecasts of Leafs and Raptors “home” games.

How: Both spots open on shots of two Toronto athletes: Leafs goaltender Freddie Andersen and Raptors small forward OG Anunoby. The visuals show them training and preparing, accompanied by a voiceover from the two outlining their approach to game day.

The spots then cut to a PS5 controller and their in-game likeness, before the voiceover resumes—except with their voice and words coming out of the mouth of a PS5 player. The ads feature recreations of standout moments from the Leafs’ and Raptors’ past season, including Anunoby’s clutch buzzer-beater against the Boston Celtics. The ads end with the gamers, now speaking in their own voice, saying “I am O.G. Anunoby” and “I am Freddie Andersen.”

MLSE cast actual fans in the spots rather than actors. “We could have cast actors. But this year more than ever, we knew authenticity had to be our north star,” explained creative lead Paul Matthews. “Both Safir and Vicky, the fans featured in the ads, embody the spirit of ‘Play Has No Limits.'”

And we quote: “Immersive play is transformative. When we play NBA2K21 or NHL20 on PS5, we feel like we are the Raptors or Leafs. The experience is that rich, and we love how our fans can connect with our teams this way. We saw a great opportunity to convey that experience by taking milestone moments from our teams’ most recent seasons and replicating them in this ad.” — Paul Matthews, creative lead, MLSE

Chris Powell