Drake has a strong effect on the team from a marketing and sponsorship perspective, and his massive social media following will raise the Raptors profile around the world.
“Having Drake as an ambassador for the Raptors is one of the most valuable assets that any sports team has right now,” sports marketing expert Blake Lawrence said from New York.
Lawrence, a former starting linebacker for the Nebraska Huskers football team and co-founder and CEO of athlete marketing platform opendorse, said Drake’s influence easily outweighs the impact of a previous generation of courtside celebrities like Spike Lee in New York or Jack Nicholson in L.A. because of the social media world we live in.
“The difference between Drake and Jack Nicholson and Spike Lee is that Drake has had his rise to stardom in the social media era,” Lawrence said. “Where you just saw Spike or Jack on the sidelines, you see Drake in your social media feed. You see his stories, you see his videos. He’s got 57 million followers on Instagram and almost 40 million followers on Twitter. He’s got nearly a 100 million people tuned in to his every move.”
The NBA has done a good job of leveraging courtside celebrities to drive viewership and engagement. “So many people at games are taking photos and videos of who’s sitting on the bench. Not who’s on the court,” Lawrence said.