Advertising Campaign

108th Grey Cup Tourism Hamilton Marketing Campaign

Submitted ByTourism Hamilton

Hamilton has always been a great sports town. But recently, the city has seen a growing number of prestigious sporting events choosing Hamilton. In response, Tourism Hamilton has committed to growing this momentum as well as capitalizing on this increased visitation to encourage visitor spending.
A recent example is the local marketing effort around the 108th Grey Cup, hosted in Hamilton in December 2021. Even with modifications due to COVID, the game still generated a hefty economic impact of $35 million, according to an independent study by Sport Tourism Canada.

The marketing campaign – promoted digitally through paid and organic social ads – included unique-to-Hamilton content designed to welcome guests to the city and encourage local exploration and economic spending before and after the big game. Highlights included:

• A hometown itinerary by a famous local ambassador and Hamilton Tiger Cat linebacker Simoni Lawrence,
• A blog on Hamilton’s deep football roots (and ways for visitors to experience that legacy today)
• A landing page pointing to relevant restaurants, transportation, and neighbourhood guides
• Successful partnerships with the CFL, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Chamber of Commerce, promoting support
• A popular giveaway contest to encourage new newsletter sign-ups


Given the opportunity to support the return of large-scale national sporting events, following years of pandemic restrictions, and aid in local recovery, Tourism Hamilton set out to enhance the visitor experience and inspire longer stays and greater spending. The Grey Cup proved to be a significant out-of-town draw. Of the 26,000 attendees, more than 60% came from out of town and of those, more than 80% stayed overnight representing an ideal opportunity to inspire local exploration and inject new tourism spending into the city. It also helped set the stage for future successful sporting event bids.

Effectiveness / Meeting Objectives

Engagement with the Grey Cup campaign’s local content was strong with more than 11k web views and 1.7K contest entries (including valuable Tourism Hamilton newsletter signups to continue the conversation about Hamilton as a destination long after the Grey Cup concluded). Combined social posts on Facebook and Instagram alone had a combined reach of around 350k and inspired 22K post engagements.

As highlighted in several independent reports, the impact of such large-scale sporting events on local tourism and hospitality partners is significant with direct spend in Hamilton accounting for close to half of the total economic impact of $35 million cited above through hotel stays, restaurants, and retail.

The momentum for successfully hosting large-scale events continued throughout the months following the Grey Cup with the FIFA World Qualifiers; the historic NHL Heritage Classic, the ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships, and a FIBA Basketball World Cup match – with a combined attendance of 50k and $8 million in impact.

Given strong marketing results and significant economic spend, Tourism Hamilton was successful in meeting its objectives.

Challenges & Changes Made

Evolving COVID restrictions and festival event cancelations leading up to the Grey Cup, presented significant challenges for long-term planning. This was addressed by setting plans for several scenarios and remaining nimble. Safety concerns and ongoing restrictions also presented unique challenges, overcome by marketing safer experiences.

Target Audience

Grey Cup marketing efforts were largely targeted at out-of-town visitors from more than 40kms away to encourage new spending in the city. However, Tourism Hamilton was mindful of the huge impact of this historic event on locals and civic pride. We chose to celebrate and leverage that with storytelling around Hamilton’s unique and storied football history, local ambassador recommendations, and compelling User Generated Content.