The HD Corner: NHL’s “Is This the Year?” Ad Campaign

Posted by Neil in Columns,The HD Corner on October 27, 2008 — 2 Comments

Unless you have been living under a rock the past few months, you have no doubt noticed the NHL’s new marketing campaign for the 2008-2009 season.  Three different aspects of the NHL have been promoted through three different campaigns: the NHL in general, the newly refreshed NHL.com, and NHL Centre Ice.  What is most impressive is that the NHL undertook all marketing initiatives internally, with creative direction provided by a couple of outside marketing firms (thanks to Brandweek and NHL.com for the specific details).

In the first campaign, the NHL has launched the “Live Every Shift (Is This the Year?)” campaign, featuring four individual national TV spots with Sidney Crosby, Henrik Lundqvist, Pat Kane, Dion Phaneuf, plus one multi-player spot, each airing nationally on CBC, TSN, RDS, Versus and NHL Network.   Each spot features a still image of the player, with the player “coming to life” and hyping up the 2008-2009 season.  The spot with Crosby and his fellow Pens seems to stand out the most, with an image of his dejected teammates taking a knee after their loss to the Wings in the last year’s Stanly Cup finale.  Ads also appear as point-of-purchase displays and in print.   Teams have also created local spots that have been airing on local networks, with each team’s star players.  To view the five national spots, click on these links below:

Crosby

Lundqvist

Kane

Phaneuf

Various players

The second component focuses on the new looking NHL.com, promoting all of its new bells and whistles.  Spots currently in market feature puck bunny Carrie Milbank approach Eddie Olczyk and Barry Melrose about NHL.com’s new live scoring features and updates, plus she stops by the Staal sod farm in Thunder Bay, Ontario, for a little meet and greet.  Click here for a clip of the Melrose spot

Finally, the third phase focuses on NHL Centre Ice, the NHL’s $200 a year pay-per-view service.  This represents the NHL’s attempt to increase the popularity of a previously weak selling service, with a national campaign mix of print, radio, and TV mediums across Canada and the U.S.  It is quite apparent with the lack of the pay-per-view service’s popularity, since hardly any ads air during the service’s programming.  In prior years, most local ads on the network were overridden with generic ads such as for Monster.com.  Over the last few years however, due to a lack of advertising support, all local network ads can be seen.  This isn’t actually the end of the world, since those snappy Geico ads always get a chuckle and did allow me save a lot of money on my car insurance.

Is it true that Gary Bettman is in fact the highly touted “marketing genius” that we were supposed to get when he came over from the NBA?  Probably not, but regardless, the NHL should be commended for once by coming out with an integrated marketing campaign that speaks to its target audience, and focuses on the future and potential of the league with its young stars.  In other words, don’t expect a national Owen Nolan campaign to be in market any time soon.

  • Arleigh Berg

    I think the new ad campaign is pretty darned good, but I am having a hard time figuring out why it is running so frigging much ON THE NHL NETWORK…. talk about preaching to the choir.

    And while Ms. Milbank has, shall we say, all her parts in the right spot, I fail to see how a former Texas football cheerleader ties into hockey.

  • Neil

    I assume it’s being used more or less as “filler” on the NHL-N, as it seems they have a lack of willing advertisers, and therefore is pretty much free ad space.