WNBA Canada Game presented by Tangerine | 6th Hashtag Sports Awards

WNBA Canada Game presented by Tangerine

NBA Canada

The 6th Annual Awards

Nominee ✨
  • Best Communications Strategy
  • Best Women’s Sports Partnership



In 2023 the NBA office in Toronto hosted the first-ever WNBA game in Canada. A strong communications strategy and execution resulted in a record-setting game: the WNBA Canada Game presented by Tangerine saw tickets sell out in hours, record attendance, record viewership in Canada and bolstered brand affinity, awareness and consideration amongst fans in Canada.


How does this represent “Excellence in Engagement”?

The WNBA Canada Game presented by Tangerine set new benchmarks for women’s professional sports, corporate support of women’s sports, energized a new fanbase and collectively raised the profile of the WNBA in Canada. While the momentum for women’s sports has been growing, this game serves as tangible proof that there is demand, there is an audience and supporting women’s sports is good for business. Substantial increases in broadcast viewership (2023 viewership increased +32% vs. 2022), WNBA App downloads (up triple digits YoY), and gains across social and digital throughout the season, point to a fanbase eager to watch more, learn more and buy more following that game. With mentions of the game included in ongoing coverage of the newly launched PWHL, it’s evident that a rising tide lifts all boats- the positive communications and marketing plan activated around the WNBA Canada Game will serve as a template for success and bolster future campaigns and industries that prioritize women's professional sports.


The rising popularity of women’s professional sports and the growing call from fans, media personalities and athletes for increased sponsorship and coverage of women’s sports, presented the NBA office in Canada with a unique challenge – how to introduce live, WNBA basketball to a new audience? Three years ago, Tangerine Bank became the WNBA’s first foundational partner in Canada, laying the groundwork for future partnerships and amplifying the league’s communications and marketing efforts across the country. Following that announcement, average regular season viewership grew 129% YoY and WNBA merchandise sales (NBAStore.ca) were up 45% YoY in 2021- indicators of a growing interest. After years of discussion, it was decided that the first WNBA game would take place in Canada at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena featuring the Minnesota Lynx and Chicago Sky (May 2023), presented by Tangerine. The NBA’s Canadian office led communications & marketing plans in collaboration with the WNBA. A six-month strategic communications calendar was developed to support and achieve two primary objectives: sell out the first WNBA Canada Game and increase visibility of the WNBA’s brand in Canada.

Strategy & Execution

The game’s marketing and communications assets aligned under a central theme of ‘historic firsts’; marking not only the league’s first game in Canada but the profound impact this first impression would have on young, female basketball players. Key announcements and media opportunities were aligned with notable dates and events that would capture the attention of the WNBA’s target demographic of young families, women, and basketball fans- including launching ticket sales on International Women’s Day. Female WNBA executives and WNBA players were leveraged for interviews, strengthening the position of the league as a bold, progressive league. Media relations opportunities capitalized on activations and moments ‘bigger than basketball’, capturing the attention of potential fans: engagements with Toronto’s Deputy Mayor, a female-focused bespoke retail program, and a larger-than-life WNBA logo sculpture at the base of the CN Tower successfully cut through traditional sports coverage and dominated headlines the weekend of the game. Tailored pitching and an ‘always-on’ approach successfully reinforced the narrative that even though this was one preseason game, the effect this historic game would have on inspiring the next generation of female fans and players would be immeasurable.


  • NBA Canada
  • WNBA
  • Tangerine Bank


Ashton Lawrence
National Basketball Association

Leah MacNab
Managing Director - NBA Canada
National Basketball Association

Daniel Freiman
Marketing & Fan Engagement
National Basketball Association

Celebrate in NYC

Join us for the 6th Annual Hashtag Sports Awards™ on the evening of June 6, 2024 as we celebrate finalists and reveal the winners of this year's awards live during the show.