TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs are going social.
The team's parent company announced a deal with TikTok on Wednesday that will see the social media platform's logo appear on players' helmets throughout the 2021-22 season.
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment said the one-year agreement with the video-sharing service, which has over one billion users, also includes in-arena and digital branding, concession items inspired by TikTok, and further collaborations with the company's other sports properties.
The NHL added helmet advertisements last season, which largely allowed teams to make sponsors whole during the COVID-19 pandemic for previously negotiated agreements.
Advertisements on helmets appear to be just the first step for the league. A source told The Associated Press in August that NHL clubs will be permitted to put sponsor patches on jerseys beginning in 2022-23 after the board of governors unanimously approved the move.
The NBA began selling jersey sponsorships in 2017-18 when Nike became the league's official apparel company. The program has brought in well over US$150 million in revenue ahead of the upcoming season.
"Sports fans around the world come to TikTok to find unique content from their favourite teams, players and leagues, and to celebrate their love of the game," TikTok Canada general manager Daniel Habashi said in the statement announcing the MLSE deal. "Hockey content has had a meteoric rise on the platform, with #hockey garnering over eight billion views on TikTok."
The Leafs opened their season Wednesday night at home against the Montreal Canadiens sporting TikTok decals on their helmets.
"TikTok has given its users the ability to shape the platform their own way and has organically built a global community through engaging, fun and educational content," said Jordan Vader, MLSE's vice-president of global partnerships.
"This is a significant moment for both our organizations to work together and reach new audiences, while connecting with our fans in ways we may not have done before."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 13, 2021.
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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press