Boston Pizza is happy to poke the bears

When the NHL playoffs got underway, many hockey fans were hoping for a Toronto Maple Leafs versus Boston Bruins matchup in the second round.

But while the Leafs (finally) took care of business, making it to the second round for the first time in 19 years, the Bruins did not—an unexpected turn of events that Boston Pizza is having some fun with.

On Monday, an “Auston Pizza” billboard went up alongside the busy Gardiner Expressway in downtown Toronto, declaring simply “Boston’s out. Auston’s in,” a reference to the Leafs’ popular and prolific goal-scoring centre, Auston Matthews.

The billboard fits with BP’s just-launched “fanalytics” campaign (below), built around the conceit that the type of analytics popular in professional sports were used to create the right food and viewing experience to allow fans to “perform” at an elite level during the playoffs.

“When we looked at the fact that Boston has no further relevance in the 2023 playoffs (sorry not sorry), and Toronto has finally made it beyond the first round, Fanalytics clearly indicated that this billboard and accompanying name change was the right play,” said Cam Boyd, executive creative director at John St., which developed the campaign.

Boston Pizza has had fun with its branding at key sporting moments when Canadian consumers have nothing but ill-will towards Boston’s teams.

For a crucial three-game Toronto Blue Jays series against the Boston Red Sox in 2016, the restaurant nearest the Jays’ stadium was changed to Toronto Pizza. And when the Vancouver Canucks faced off against the Bruins in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, Vancouver Pizza banners were sent to every location in B.C. to cover up the temporarily offensive name.

David Brown