Cup at Heart of NHL’s Campaign for the Playoffs

stanley cup

Below is a news summary by Nathan Hagan, an Entertainment Management student at Missouri State University.

(from Sports Business Journal, March 12, 2012) The Stanley Cup championship will be rebranded this year in an effort to attract every type of fan. “Because it’s the Cup” replaces the two-year-old “History Will Be Made” campaign. The new campaign will be recognizable to casual and non-fans. They may not be able to name a single hockey player, but research shows they still have knowledge and appreciation of the Stanley Cup heritage.

By turning the Stanley Cup into their version of March Madness, venue attendance should increase. To create buzz for the Stanley Cup playoffs, Brian Jennings, the NHL Executive Vice President for Marketing, is utilizing social media. Each promo starts with “Because.” For example: Because it’s a good excuse to go out on a Wednesday; Because in hockey, there are two halftimes; Because it’s the Cup.

The league has stepped away from its protectiveness in permitting sponsors and licensees to use Stanley Cup images. MolsonCoors signed a $375,000,000 North American sponsorship deal. This postseason 2,500 bars in Canada and 4,000 bars across the United States will be drawing Molson Canadian and Coors Light draft with the image of the Stanley cup on the tap handles.

To support the tap campaign, MillerCoors (MolsonCoors in Canada) will join with league licensee Panini to offer a trading card program. Millions of cards depicting Stanley Cup-winning teams will be the most sought after. In addition to the trading card program, themed cans and packaging will be displayed on MillerCoors cans and bottles.

Brian Jennings has organized nearly every league sponsor to incorporate “Because it’s the Cup” into branding, packaging and digital or social media.  NHL licensees Old Time Hockey, Reebok and VF are producing apparel. NHL and NBC stores in New York, along with other league partners, will feature playoff point-of-sale advertising.

NBC and NBC Sports Network will air the spots. Local NHL rights holders are expected to produce their own versions of the campaign, keeping in mind that the NHL playoffs and the Stanley Cup championship trophy are at the heart of what makes the NHL unique.