Toronto’s hero of the NBA Finals, Kawhi Leonard, didn’t just get the keys to the city, he got a free jet deal from Cargojet akin to Toronto rapper, Drake. Just weeks later, the hero of “the six” moved to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Kawhi Leonard Leaves Toronto Just Weeks After NBA Finals
Enthusiasm and pride swelled around the Toronto Raptors following their first-ever NBA championship. Toronto stand-out, Kawhi Leonard, was all but royalty for his performance in the finals. His time in Toronto has come to an end, however. Following the season his stock has never been higher. Leonard was a Free Agent and has found a new home with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Cargojet Looks Pretty Silly Now
Last week I wrote about Leonard receiving a free 767 jet in a deal that mirrored another beloved Toronto hero, Drake. When details of the deal weren’t initially revealed, mainstream media filled in what they presumed to be the details of the deal, CNN suggesting that Drake had spent $220 million on the aircraft. In fact, Cargojet charged him nothing for the plane, expensing it instead to Marketing.
Leonard’s deal shortly followed Drake’s and in the span of a few weeks, Cargojet has handed out two jets to Toronto legends.
Marketing is a Double-Edged Sword
Riding the wave of sudden fame, Cargojet drafted on the enthusiasm for newly minted champions and continued their moment in the spotlight in the way that a regional cargo airline likely never has before. I don’t have access to their Google Analytics but I am relatively confident they have never had more brand awareness in a positive light than the last few weeks.
The problem is that now Leonard is no longer a Toronto legend at all. Even if Cargojet intended to retire the equipment (I believe they did) and got a great deal on a less-flashy overhaul (almost without a doubt), they still gave away an airliner to someone who loved their shared home of Toronto so much that he left just a few weeks later.
Now, the carrier is seen as an oddly starstruck and a little bit ridiculous giving away wide-bodies to get close to stars that may not love them back. They look needy.
If Cargojet wants to give Toronto legends all of their retiring jets, that’s fine by me. If I were a shareholder, I’d raise more questions about why re-fitting the equipment and giving it away is worth more than parting them out – a good marketer could make that case. However, I would doubt that sales will follow as a result; cargo customers aren’t likely swayed by celebrity endorsement. With Leonard bolting from Toronto, Cargojet looks ridiculous.
What do you think? Does it change the benefits of Cargojet’s brand ambassadorship when Toronto stars leave Toronto? Does it extend their presence? Is it all just ridiculous or sound marketing strategy?