Thursday, September 14, 2006

Marketing the Sport

Time to Market Some Wild and Crazy Hockey Players

Here we are about to start the new NHL season and I've been noting the sharp contrast between how intensely and effectively the NFL markets their established and rising stars vs. the NHL. Chad Johnson, Ben Roethlisberger, Reggie Bush, Peyton Manning - they are everywhere, hawking everything. In the NHL, it's Alex Ovechkin, Jeremy Roenick and then crickets. Ovechkin is the real deal - a highlight reel superstar whose English makes him a candidate to stay a highlight reel star. Roenick's got two memorable highlight reels. One involves a puck to the grill and a lot of bleeding and swelling. The other is televised rant against the fans during the lockout. The most dangerous place to be in hockey is between Roenick and a TV camera. And when he gets to that camera, when is he ever "on message?" The most exciting place to be is at any game involving Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, Crosby and possibly Phil Kessel, and that's where the focus needs to be.

The NHL can't compete with the NFL in the high fashion/hip-hop cultural icon arena. Reggie Bush as the uber-pimp - Matt Leinart as Neo from the Matrix; both are way over-the-top and work at that strata. Hockey is different. Hockey players aren't high-fashion and don't to get to grope Paris Hilton in a Vegas club. Yes, Sean (thanks Drew) Avery had a go at better-than-Paris for a while, but the generalization still works. Unfortunately, Ovechkin dresses like the a wild and crazy Czech brother from the old Dan Akroyd/Steve Martin SNL skit (at least he hasn't been caught in a kilt like Kovalchuk), but his play on the pond represents all that is wicked-cool about hockey. The NFL is in brand maintenance and refinement mode. The NHL is in brand re-invention mode.

I think the NHL needs to start selling the speed, physicality, danger, and the raw emotion of hockey by selling us on the daredevils who define a sport played at the very edge of the physical envelope. No more Rod Brind 'Amour climbing the mountain on a green-screen. No more, "This is hockey?!?" No more sweaty player head lifting to an icy glare glare (again on a green-screened backdrop). Give me dasher cam shots following Eric Cole on a breakawy rush. Give me spit, chicklets and mouthguards flying after a Dion Phaneuf hit. Give me acrobatic and impossible saves up close and through all the traffic and collisions. And devote the time, effort and resources necessary to connect fans with the studs who make the most athletic plays in all of sports.


nuts4pucks said...

Amen, brother!

Drew said...

Steve Avery, the one-armed pitching wonder from UofM, or Sean Avery, the arse in LA?

CasonBlog said...

Pre-senior moment..thanks

The Acid Queen said...

Best. Ad. Evar.

And I mean that sincerely. I wish we had cool ads like that down here in the States. Can't you imagine how much more fun that ad would be with Erik Cole in it?

CasonBlog said...

Erik would run thru the sideboards instead of going over.

Puck Engineer said...

A quick highlight real of Ovechkin or Crosby is all the advertising the NHL needs. The sooner we forget last year's ad campaign, the better.

And Erik Cole rocks. I may or may not be related to him (same surname) but the bastard's return cost my Oilers the Cup.