Nextdoor Canada plays footie with Toronto FC

Nextdoor Canada has kicked off a new sponsorship deal with Toronto FC that managing director Christopher Doyle said moves the goalposts for its Canadian marketing efforts.

The app-based company, which bills itself as a private social network for neighbourhoods, has been largely focused on community-building since launching in Canada in 2019, although it has undertaken some smaller-scale marketing initiatives.

They include a partnership with popular Canadian online personality Brittlestar; a sponsorship agreement with the Canadian Elite Basketball League; partnering with Vaccine Hunters on a program to help users find hyper-local vaccine information; partnering with RBC on a program aimed at connecting local businesses with potential customers; and some direct mail campaigns.

But the multi-year Toronto F.C. sponsorship marks a major step forward for the company, said Doyle. “We’ve never done anything of this scale… This is quite big for us.”

Brokered by Nextdoor Canada and MLSE, the Toronto FC partnership includes in-stadium activations at Toronto FC’s BMO Field, as well as an in-game activation called “Neighbour of the Match” that will celebrate TFC fans who are making a difference in their community. Their “neighbourly actions” will be celebrated during matches and on the Nextdoor app.

Nextdoor hopes to grow its penetration in the GTA through the partnership, while also driving in-person community engagement through events like the tentatively titled Neighbourhood Match Day—which encourages neighbours to get together around TFC games. Three such events are planned for each of the 2023 and 2024 seasons, said Doyle.

The partnership also includes out-of-home advertising on the MLSE operated digital board alongside Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway.

There is a natural connection between community and sports, and particularly a grassroots sport such as soccer, said Doyle. Not only a hugely popular youth activity, the game is enjoying a growth spurt, buoyed by the national women’s team winning Olympic gold in 2021 and the men’s team qualifying for the upcoming World Cup Finals for the first time in 36 years.

Toronto FC and soccer in general are also popular with the new Canadians who make up a large part of Nextdoor’s user base, said Doyle.

Canada is currently the fastest-growing international market for Nextdoor, which has operations in 11 countries. The app is now used in nearly one in six households in major markets including Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Ottawa, said Doyle.

“Soccer and community go hand-in-hand, which makes Nextdoor the perfect partner to help Toronto FC engage local soccer fans,” said Jordan Vader, senior vice-president of global partnerships, MLSE. “As we head into this important time for soccer, and as part of our commitment to growing the game, we’re thrilled to extend the passion and the excitement of the sport to GTA neighbours in a way that only Nextdoor can.”

Chris Powell