Kawhi Leonard may not be a baseball player, but he was the first topic that showed up if you searched for the Blue Jays on social media last night. The franchise should take notice.
What do the Raptors and Blue Jays have in common? Well, right now there’s not a whole lot linking them beyond playing in the same city, and yet social media has tied the two clubs together an awful lot over the last few weeks.
The reason for that has been the media frenzy over Kawhi Leonard, who not only stole headlines across the country by leading the Raptors to an NBA championship earlier this month, but he’s kept everyone’s attention because of his pending free agency, and the wide hope that he’ll return for a chance to defend the title.
A few days after winning said championship, Leonard made an appearance at a Blue Jays’ game to a standing ovation from the small crowd in attendance. Social media was pretty great that evening as well, with all kinds of jokes around the idea that he has to be staying if he’s coming to watch a struggling team like the Blue Jays. That has little to no bearing on his attending of course, but I’ll even admit it’s a little bit funny.
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He caught Canada’s attention yesterday as well, as he was spotted on vacation in Barbados, and was sporting a Blue Jays jersey while doing so. He also posted a photo on Instagram as well, and once again had Toronto and Canadian sports fans very excited about the potential that he’ll stick around and sign a new contract.
The reason I mention this in the context of the Blue Jays is because I believe the front office and the PR department need to take full advantage of the situation, and do it for selfish purposes. Sure, you can just have some fun with the whole #HeStay or #KawineAndDine, but there could be a real opportunity for marketing here if it’s done right.
I’m fully aware that the Blue Jays can’t really have an impact on any decision that Leonard will make regarding his future, but they could probably win over some Raptors fans by trying. Maybe it’s something like a seat ticket next to the “Home Plate Lady”, a Kawhi bobblehead night, or free Loonie Dogs for life.
One of the things I have enjoyed the most about following the Raptors over the last few years has been the sense of community around that team. Whether it’s through the lens of multiculturism, Canadian pride, or just general excitement around a successful team, there are lessons to be learned and a vibe to be captured.
At the midway point of a struggling season, the Blue Jays are going to have to get creative in order to hold the attention of their fan base through the second half. Kawhi Leonard may not have anything to do with their success on the field, but the Blue Jays should definitely be paying attention. This is a city and a country that loves a winner.