MLSE and PlayStation dream up a visually sumptuous campaign

Who: PlayStation Canada with MLSE, game studio Media Molecule (using its PlayStation exclusive title Dreams), and Matt Bergasse, a Toronto artist who has been employed with Media Molecule since last year in the full-time role of “Dreams specialist.”

What: A new video content series featuring two of MLSE’s Toronto-born athletes: The Toronto Raptors’ first-ever Canadian draft pick, Dalano Banton, and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Wayne Simmonds. There’s no specific product push or sales pitch here, but the ads/content were made using a Playstation product, and social posts promoting the videos explain they were “brought to life” using #Dreams.

When & Where: The campaign launched on Feb. 25 and is running through March 31 across traditional broadcast channels including Sportsnet Ontario, as well online using the NBA’s YouTube channel, Twitter and MLSE and PlayStation Canada’s owned and operated channels.

Why: The campaign is supporting the gaming console’s global “Play Has No Limits” brand platform, which was introduced in 2020. Both Banton and Simmonds fit with the platform for their personal stories of overcoming challenges and adversity to make it to the highest levels of their respective sports.

How: The long-form videos combine on-screen interviews with the Banton and players, accompanied by dream-like animation created by Bergasse using the palette of tools available within Dreams. Both videos tell the story of how the two men pushed through “limits” to achieve their goal of becoming a professional sports star.

In Simmonds’ story, the Leafs forward talks about how he discovered the sport of hockey, what fuelled his passion for the sport and how he was inspired by Willie O’Ree, the first Black hockey player in the NHL. Banton, meanwhile, shares how his passion for basketball was shaped by growing up in the city’s Rexdale neighbourhood, and how he chose his uniform number (#45) based on the bus he took every day to get to school (see the making of video below).

MLSE is also encouraging fans to submit their own stories of how they overcame limits to achieve their dreams and goals through the Maple Leafs and Raptors apps for a chance to win a Leafs or Raptors prize pack. PlayStation will donate $6 for each qualifying entry to the MLSE Foundation Change the Game campaign.

What is Dreams: A PlayStation exclusive “game,” Dreams is described as a “creative platform” that enables users to build their own gaming world and has been called the culmination of PlayStation’s Play, create, share” philosophy. It has been the subject of breathless coverage by media outlets including Fast Company, The New Yorker and The Guardian.

Writing on the gaming site last year, author Mike Fahey described it as a “massive virtual artistic commune” in which players are given the necessary tools to create everything from games and visual novels, to sculptures and animated characters.

The caveat here is that all of the things created exist only within Dreams‘ environs. “The things that get made in Dreams are stuck in Dreams until they’re liberated as videos or live streams or images that make it to social media or articles from journalists who are commenting on how cool things made in Dreams are,” wrote Vice‘s Cameron Kunzelman in 2019.

Brands have already taken notice of the platform. Last year, Mercedes-Benz partnered with Media Molecule and a Dreams community creator named Scott Vanderburgh to create a 2D platform game called “Dreams and Mercedes.” It presented a future in which artificial intelligence takes care of all the work, leaving humans free to explore their creativity. And last year, Bergasse used Dreams to create a trailer promoting London Fashion Week for the Fashion Innovation agency .

And we quote: “Simmonds and Banton are incredible role models with powerful stories of pushing the boundaries of play which embody the ethos of our brand. It was an honour to work in collaboration with MLSE, Media Molecule and the Dreams teams to bring their inspirational stories to life in a way that shows ‘Play Has No Limits.'” — Shelly Walia, director of marketing and public relations, PlayStation Canada

Chris Powell