By Barry Janoff
April 3, 2013: The NHL has taken a lot of hits this year — many self-imposed, arising from the league's second lockout since 2005 — including the loss of 510 games (41% of the season) and the cancellation of such jewel events as the Winter Classic and All-Star Game and surrounding festivities.
But the NHL has a chance for public and marketing redemption with the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs, which begin April 30.
The league wants to tap into the unbounded energy exuded by loyal fans, and open the door for casual and non-hockey fans, with a multi-level campaign, "Because It's The Cup . . ." that also comes with the addendum, "It's Time." The push will be anchored by five TV spots that will air across NHL media partners, led by NBC and NBC Sports networks and NHL Network; and on Internet, with a heavy dose of social media at such destinations as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
The campaign will build and expand on last year's initial installment of "Because It's The Cup." Lead agency is mono, Minneapolis.
According to the NHL, every game of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs will be televised in the U.S. for only the second time, as they were last year, through an agreement between the NHL and NBC. The four national networks are NBC, NBC Sports Network, CNBC and NHL Network.
Two spots break this week: "First Kiss" and "Get Weird," the former focusing on players and the latter on fans.
"First Kiss" shows NHL players in playoff action and focuses on those veterans and teams who spent years chasing, and ultimately catching (and kissing) the Stanley Cup. It comes with the text, "It's time for the first-kiss jitters."
Among those highlighted are the Pittsburgh Penguins (won the Stanley Cup in 2009, the team's first since 1992 and the first for Sidney Crosby), Chicago Blackhawks (won the Stanley Cup in 2010, the team's first since 1961), Boston Bruins (won the Stanley Cup in 2011, the team's first since 1972), and Los Angeles Kings (which in 2012 won the Stanley Cup for the first time). (See the full spot here.)
"Get Weird" shows the fanatical side of hockey's already excitable fans, including people in super hero costumes, with team logo tattoos on their shaved heads, wearing hard-to-define animal skins and hoisting the Stanley Cup (and faux versions of the Cup) in unusual places.
The spot is played out to the song lyrics, "H-O-C-K-E-Y. I'll love hockey till the day I die." (See the full spot here.)
The NHL said the other spots would break prior to the Stanley Cup playoffs and that all five would remain in rotation through the post-season.