For NHL, March Madness Leads To April, May, June Stanley Cup Greatness
Monday, March 7, 2011 at 02:00PM in Ad Campaigns, NBC, NHL, Stanley Cup, Versus, sports marketing

March 7, 2011: March Madness is sometimes best served on ice, even if the real madness doesn't begin until April — and the NHL knows that better than most.

In 2010, the NHL supported the Stanley Cup playoffs with "History Will Be Made," a campaign that the league said was a catalyst in attracting more than 302 million TV viewers, the most watched NHL post-season in 36 years.

This year, in an effort to attract even more casual and non-hockey fans to the playoff run that culminates with the awarding of the Stanley Cup, the NHL and the NBC Sports Group said they would work together to support "History Will be Made" with a multi-media campaign that would "significantly broader distribution."

The national ad campaign will reach fans via TV, online, radio, print, in-arena, POP, mobile and social media platforms of the NHL, NBC and Versus, as well as additional NBC Universal platforms, such as CNBC and MSNBC. The campaign was developed collaboratively by the NHL, NBC Sports Group and Versus, in consultation with global advertising agency, Young & Rubicam.

“There is both quality and power in the History Will Be Made campaign,” John Miller, who heads the NBC Sports Agency and the NBCUniversal Marketing Council, said in a statement. “By pooling our creative resources and air time, we believe collectively we can effectively tell the story of the excitement and emotion of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.”

The first pair of TV spots in this season’s campaign — “Wish” and “Mess” — will debut March 13 during the NBC Sports broadcast of the Chicago Blackhawks at Washington Capitals game. More than 20 additional spots will launch by April 13, the first day of the Playoffs. Starting April 14 through the conclusion of the Stanley Cup finals in June, a new spot will be produced each day, highlighting a key moment from the previous night’s games, according to the NHL.

The campaign also features prominent Stanley Cup playoff moments from the past, including "49 Years," highlighting the Blackhawks winning the 2009-10 Stanley Cup, the team's first league championship in 49 years. Interactive elements include YouTube, where last season fans created more than 2,400 versions of the NHL's "History Will Be Made" spots, eliciting more than 8 million total views. Also for the second year, fans will be able to download the music composed for the History Will Be Made campaign from the NHL’s Facebook page for fan-generated spots.

“The Stanley Cup Playoffs are filled with drama, the emotional highs and lows of crucial wins and losses, the unbearable tension of sudden death overtime and performances that can define a career forever," Brian Jennings, NHL evp-marketing. "Last season, the 'History Will Be Made' campaign . . .  elicited an overwhelming emotional reaction from our fans."

"We expect the campaign to continue to reach and resonate with even more fans, further helping to drive interest and viewership.”

According to Jennings, in addition to generating their own YouTube versions of TV spots, fans brought handmade "History Will Be Made" signs to games and "players even referenced the campaign in post-game interviews. This year, by taking a truly collaborative approach on creative, production and media with NBC Sports and Versus, we expect the campaign to continue to reach and resonate with even more fans, further helping to drive interest and viewership.”

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