Tangerine is banking on a little-used shot to boost customer loyalty

The Toronto Raptors’ stats page lists 41 different types of shots that are used in calculating its official team statistics. If you had to rank them by their ability to get fans on their feet, the slam dunk and the three-pointer would probably be the runaway leaders.

But this season, team sponsor Tangerine is hoping to become synonymous with a largely unheralded part of NBA players’ arsenal: The bank shot. As part of its new “Bank Shot Account” promotion, the digital bank brand is depositing $1,000 into a dedicated account for every bank shot made by the Raptors.

At the end of the season, all of the money—potentially as much as $120,000, according to Tangerine’s estimates—will be donated to community basketball initiatives in Canada.

Tangerine first became the Official Bank of the Toronto Raptors in 2018 as part of parent company Scotiabank’s massive 20-year, $800 million deal with MLSE. But an association with bank shots feels so obvious, so intuitive, it feels almost odd that it hasn’t happened sooner.

“When we took it to the client, it was one of those moments where they were like ‘Was this staring us in the face the whole time?'” joked Jamie Marcovitch, executive creative director with John St., the agency that worked with Tangerine on the promotion. “It was an epiphany, kind of lightning bolt moment, where we thought ‘Who better to own that shot and do something magic with it.'”

Research indicated that the highest level of familiarity and affinity with the bank among Raptors fans stemmed from its various community initiatives, with game moments also scoring well, said Tangerine’s chief marketing officer, Nicole German.

“That’s where we said ‘How can we get excitement at game time, and be able to give back to the community?'” she said.

“We really want this notion of building a fan platform,” she said. “Fans get some surprise and delight, they’re into the game and it feels energizing, and then we’re also giving back to the community. Out of the gate, we’re feeling really good about it, and it has good energy.”

Tangerine is supporting the program with a robust media buy from PHD Canada that includes TV, radio, digital/social (including Raptors.com and other owned and operated assets) and out-of-home, as well as in-arena marketing. Production partners were Gimmick Studio for animation/post-production, and Berkeley Inc. for audio.

The ultimate goal is to make Tangerine synonymous with the bank shot, said Marcovitch. “I would love, as the season continues, that whenever the Raptors sink a bank shot, the first thing that pops into people’s mind is Tangerine.”

The bank shot, it should be noted, is not widely utilized or particularly revered in the modern NBA. In fact, in Google searches, the most common descriptors attached to it were phrases like “not pretty,” “boring” and “a forgotten relic of the game.”

One of its leading latter-era proponents, now retired San Antonio Spurs’ forward Tim Duncan, was once named among the top 10 most boring players in the league (if you consider five titles and three Finals MVP awards boring, that is), and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, the sport’s sage guru, once described it as “old school” and “not cool.”

Last year, bank shots as described on the Raptors’ team statistics page accounted for just 88 of the team’s 3,332 made field goals, which is a paltry 2.64%.

German said that the ultimate goal with the promotion is to create what hoops fans might describe as off-ball excitement around the promotion. “The energy during a game is there, but we also want to explore what are some of the other ways we can create fun engagement,” she said, suggesting tutorials around practicing a bank shot as a hypothetical extension.

According to the definition of “bank shot” listed on the officials Raptors’ stats page, nine types of shot qualify for inclusion in the promotion—including the turnaround bank shot, the step back bank hook shot, and the hook bank shot. Through Wednesday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Raptors had made a total of eight bank shots in their first five games of the season.

Not surprisingly, Tangerine has crunched the numbers to get a sense of what its total outlay for the promotion might be. German expects the Raptors to tally anywhere from 100 to 120 bank shots over the course of an 82-game season, which means that between $100,000 and $120,000 will be deposited into the account.

History has shown, however, that even the sturdiest of projections can be way off the mark. At the start of the 2018-19 season, for example, McDonald’s Canada introduced a promotion in which it promised to give away a free order of medium fries whenever the Raptors made at least 12 3-pointers in a game.

The Raptors had averaged 11.8 made 3-point shots per game in the previous season, but the addition of a three-point specialist in Danny Green and a superstar in Kawhi Leonard saw the team suddenly become lethal from beyond the arc. McDonald’s had expected to give away 700,000 orders of fries, but the number ballooned to 2 million in the regular season alone, meaning it gave away $5.8 million worth of fries.

But promotions tied to in-game moments also have the potential to galvanize a crowd. In a now infamous 2012 game at the then Air Canada Centre, Raptors fans roared with joy when big man Ed Davis sank a free throw with 2.1 seconds remaining in a blowout loss to the Orlando Magic. It didn’t tie or win the game for Toronto, but it helped the team—limping towards what would be a dismal 23-43 record in a shortened season—reach the 100-point threshold required for fans to get a free slice at Pizza Pizza the next day.

And the Philadelphia 76ers this year introduced a promotion with Chick-Fil-A called “Bricken-For-Chicken,” which awards food prizes whenever a player from the opposing team misses two consecutive free throws in the second half of a home game. The promotion has seen even the normally reserved (!) Philly fans going berserk when a chance for free nuggets is quite literally on the line.

“I can’t wait until Canadians feel that energy every time a bank shot gets sunk,” said Marcovitch. “Just like every bank account, we want it to grow. And when people see what we do with the money, the hope is that there becomes a passion to see it grow.”

And if Scottie Barnes want to incorporate more bank shots in his repertoire, all the better. “But not too many,” joked German.


Chris Powell