The Madness Of March, Hockey, and Beer

Things are really heating up for Buffalo sports fans. Obviously we have the Sabres pushing for the 8th playoff spot and they’re 4 points back at time of writing. Then there’s the huge Mario Williams signing that has reinvigorated the Bills fan base, which leads to even more excitement about the draft. Throw in March madness, spring in the air, women wearing less clothing and it’s a beautiful thing and awesome time of year.

On top of that, the NHL has a brand new campaign for the Stanley Cup playoffs. According to this Sports Business Daily article , the NHL has ditched the 2-year-old “History Will Be Made” campaign and has a new tagline: “Because It’s The Cup”.

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(Image via Puck Daddy)

The new campaign targets the casual fans moreso than traditional, hardcore hockey fans. Their research found that most people had knowledge of the rich history of the Stanley Cup and the NHL decided to (smartly) capitalize on that, focusing on the one thing that casual fans know the best and are perhaps most interested in.

As you may know, the NHL made a huge $375 million dollar advertising agreement with MolsonCoors (or MillerCoors in the states). For this campaign the NHL and MolsonCoors will work together to do lots of interesting thing like giving Stanley Cup draft tap handles to over 6,500 bars in North America.

In an attempt to attract casual hockey fans and sports fans who aren’t partial to hockey, league marketers are trying to turn the Stanley Cup playoffs into their own version of March Madness. With all the buzz about social media, an overall campaign objective was to attract non-hockey fans by “socializing the Stanley Cup playoffs”…

Some of the taglines have been revealed as well:

Each promo is a string of sentences, beginning with “Because,” i.e.: “Because it’s good to get together over something cold. Because it’s a good excuse to go out on a Wednesday night. Because in hockey, there are two halftimes. Because it’s fun to say Zamboni. Because it’s the Cup.”

To me this is really smart advertising: it’s simple and it gives the viewer good reasons why they should check out the playoffs. Rather than focus on abstract things or things specific to hockey that we hockey fans love but the casual fan may not care about, they’re hooking into things that most sports fans like.

There are four ads to start with, although a Puck Daddy post  says that there will be team-specific ads as well. The post features just the St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers, so we can only hope the Sabres will be featured as well. Good luck to the NHL in growing the sport – maybe someday it won’t be the red-headed stepchild of the sports world.

In related beer/hockey news, the Chicago Express (the ECHL affiliate of the Columbus Bluejackets) are wearing this super sweet jersey on St. Partrick’s Day:

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The first green beer jersey. It makes me thirsty.

They’ll be auctioning the game-worn jerseys off after the game.  Incidentally, they have $1 hot dogs and $1 beers tonight while tickets range from $7 to $26 dollars. This really makes me want to check out some minor league hockey games!

Enjoy your St. Patricks day, be safe, and of course – Let’s Go Buffalo!

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