Hey, NHL Chief Marketing Officer, you should read this

03Dec06

(this was originally posted a few weeks ago on v1.0 of this blog. I’m just trying to port over some of the more recent posts for some continuity.)

You have to spend money to make money. That includes advertising expenses. Apparently, the NHL forgot this, and Larry Brooks of the (shudder) New York Post brought up a very good point today:

If I’m watching an NHL telecast on Nov. 10, do I really need to see the Sidney Crosby promo reminding me that the NHL season has begun?

Isn’t that sort of like stepping into the voting booth on Nov. 7 and being handed a flyer saying that Nov. 7 is Election Day?

Wouldn’t it make more sense for the NHL to buy time, say, on NFL telecasts, to run that spot?

I’ve often wondered this. Even with the whole stupid “Hockey Warrior God” promos from last season, they were being shown during NHL games in the arena and on TV. In fact, most of the time I’ve seen NHL commercials — mind you, not commercials for products endorsed by hockey players, but commercials promoting the league — they’ve been generally on their own TV.

Isn’t this completely bass-ackwards?

During the “Glowing Puck Years” on Fox, I remember the league actually got some promo time during their prime time lineup. They were these goofy commercials with Paul Kariya shooting peas off a spoon in a restaurant and Wayne Gretzky/Mark Messier living as The Odd Couple. Yeah, they were kinda stupid, but no more stupid than Sidney Crosby standing in some dude’s shower (though I think the Peter Forsberg one is pretty funny). But they got the point across — expose the game and the players to more people.

So, if they league ran the Sidney Crosby commercial every week during an NFL game, don’t you think the name Sidney Crosby would become just a little bit more familiar to non-hockey fans? And a lot of the somewhat-knowledgeable sports fans would probably recognize the name from his mentions in SI and ESPN Magazine, thus putting face to name. You’re getting an audience of millions of people who’ve shown they are dedicated to watching sports, so why the hell don’t you throw your biggest, most marketable name in front of them every freakin’ week?

These initial batches of commercials are “to remind people the season started” but what about afterwards? The best sports commercials, I think, are the ones that highlight a one-on-one rivalry through humor. Some of my favorites are the Michael Jordan/Larry Bird playing horse commercial and the Andre Agassi/Pete Sampras street tennis commercial. I’ve even got an easy idea that the NHL can use, free of charge:

Fade in. Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby are walking down a city street in full gear. Their names are PROMINENTLY displayed.
Graphic overlay: “Anything you do, I can do better.”
SC: I can score amazing goals (show the clip of Montreal shootout goal)
AO: Did that (show the sliding on the back goal)
AO: I can make beautiful passes (show clip of a great assist)
SC: Did that (show clip of Sid’s one-knee spinorama to Ziggy Palffy vs. the Caps last season)
SC: I’ve got blazing speed (show montage of Sid blowing by people)
AO: No comparison (show montage of AO blowing by people)

Sid and AO get to a bar.
Bouncer: IDs please
AO shows his and walks in. Sid shows his and is denied.

Here’s the punchline…
Bouncer: Sorry sir, you have to be 21 to enter here.
AO: Guess you can’t do that.
Sid: Not yet.

What does my stupid idea accomplish? It 1) establishes the names and faces of the brightest stars in the league 2) showcases their amazing skills through clips 3) adds in a little rivalry juice and 4) adds a goofy twist that Joe Blow on the street can remember as “Oh yeah, the hockey players from the bar commercial.”

Film that and stick it on the NFL every week and I guarantee you that millions more people will know who Sid the Kid and Alexander the Great are…AND they’ll have digested their amazing skills.

Marketing…what a concept!

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One Response to “Hey, NHL Chief Marketing Officer, you should read this”

  1. 1 Anonymous

    Yup, I’ve often wondered about the NHL’s marketing…those ads from last year were horrid. I don’t think people are watching hockey because of the beefcake dudes, although surely some are, but more likely to watch the speed and talent of the stars!

    I like your script, maybe we’ll see something close to that creative in another ten years, after the next lockout or two. NHL: The best game, run by idiots…Looking at you, Bettman.


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