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WJC Playmakers: Bart Given

The TORQUE Strategies managing director talks about working with the Playmakers group, building the Vancouver/Victoria bid, and power of REPRESENT

Jessica Gowans
October 9, 2018

Leading in to the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship the host committee has formed the Playmakers group, bringing together business leaders from across B.C. to serve as event ambassadors and strategic advisors, as well as serving as a connection to local partners and businesses in Vancouver and Victoria.

The Playmakers will help share the message from Hockey Canada and the host committee, and support initiatives around community engagement and the benefits of hosting the World Juniors in their backyard.

This time, sat down with Bart Given, the managing director of TORQUE Strategies.

Q: Why is it important for you to be involved in the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship?

BG: I think for me, being involved from day one on helping create the bid, bringing it to life and our work as an agency in addition to my personal effort, I just want to see it to fruition. That’s the business side. On the personal side, I love World Juniors as a property, I’ve watched it for years. I watch it religiously, and I just think it’s one of the anchor events on the calendar in Canada because you know when it’s happening, you know December 26 there’s going to be a game with Canada playing, you know there’s almost always a game on New Year’s Eve and that Canada is going to be challenging for a medal, so it’s a great time of the year to watch hockey and I just love the storylines behind it.

Q: From your side, what went into the bid process?

BG: For us it was looking holistically on why British Columbia, and specifically Vancouver and Victoria, why this was a good time for Hockey Canada and the IIHF to come here. I think from our perspective; this market wears the flag like no other place in Canada. I say that cautiously, because I know there’s a lot of great cities that support Team Canada events, but from the World Juniors in ’06, he Olympic & Paralympic Games, FIFA events here, and Rugby Sevens, this city, and Victoria as well, really wrap themselves in the flag and support Team Canada whenever it’s here. So, the timing was great, the market was ready, and it just felt like our time and we knew the event would be a tremendous success.

Q: Why is REPRESENT the right way to get people involved in the World Juniors?

BG: It has so many meanings, and it’s a bit of a layered word from our perspective. It starts with the athlete pathway, young boys, including my son, imagine their hockey “career” ultimately ending up in the NHL, but before that – they are representing Team Canada over the holidays. The way that the event has been built and how it’s been marketed over the years, they’re also representing their hometown and their junior team. That helped us really wrap around the athlete, but from a consumer perspective too it was important for us to show a bit of a pride point for the West Coast to show that we represent Canada very well, and we will represent the World Juniors very well, we’ll put on a great show and come out in full force wearing red and white.

Q: What makes the World Juniors such a must-see event for Canadians every year?

BG: It’s the storyline. It’s the kids playing for their country, giving it their all and the ups and downs that come with it. It’s the emotion that has been built in that event. It’s the timing; it’s such a perfect window of people

spending time with their families and we’re watching kids play hockey, it’s the truest Canadian event that we have in that sense. We also know the exact date on the calendar. The Grey Cup, the Stanley Cup, and the Super Bowl are all great events that we watch en masse, but they have floating dates. You know when this event is happening, you can book it a year in advance, two years in advance that you’re going to be watching Canada play at some point on Boxing Day. I think that’s part of the story that makes it really compelling as well. Additionally, it comes down to spending time with a broader family, and the fact that for that window, the entire country puts away their Canucks jersey, or their Flames jersey, or their Giants jersey and their Royals jersey and just gets behind one jersey, and that’s Team Canada.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish with the Playmakers group?

BG: I think it’s just continuing to strengthen relationships with the people who are executing the vision, and will ultimately make this event super successful. It’s become a bit of a family.

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

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