NHL Makes Right Play with Latest Commercial

While the World Cup of Hockey was met with mixed reviews, the NHL’s marketing around the event and its ability to relate it back to its original product offering (the NHL season) is spot on.

Check out the After They Play for the World, They Play for You spot:

Creating an Integrated Message

As you can see, the NHL not only promotes the World Cup of Hockey but also sets the table for the upcoming NHL season. Given that some see the World Cup of Hockey as a self-promoting money grab for the NHL, it was important to position the best-on-best tournament as a precursor for NHL regular season.

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

One would think that the NHL will use the World Cup (where the best players in the game played on an international stage) as leverage to prevent NHL players from participating in the next Olympics, but that’s a narrative for another time.

What the commercial does well is promote playing for both country and club, without lessening one or the other. The connection between the two is nicely tied together with “a person can be from two places at once” line. This seamless bridge between playing in the NHL and playing internationally is the glue that ties the whole spot together.

Resonating With the Common Fan

The real brilliance with the copy is how it creates a narrative around professional hockey that resonates with fans. Although most of us, unfortunately, will never know what it’s like to skate on NHL ice, we can relate to the overall theme.

The spot states that “everyone has an origin story. The place where you were born stays in your blood and shapes who you are.” We all know – for better or worse – the impact of our upbringing. Many of us also understand the feeling of being “called somewhere new to try and make your mark,” whether it’s getting a new job, going away to college or facing any other type of change.

Team North America, World Cup of Hockey, Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs, Hockey
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

I must confess, this commercial, particularly that line, really hits home for me, as an American who’s found a home living in Europe for the last five years. But regardless of our individual stories, this truly is a message made for everyone, which is what makes it so special.

Even the final takeaway is directed toward “you” the fan, as the commercial concludes “after they play for the world, they play for you.” It’s not very often you find a message that is so far reaching, yet so personal at the same time.

While the NHL’s marketing might not always be on point, the league has done an excellent job producing TV spots. Among some other favorites are Wish and No Words.

What did you think of the NHL’s latest commercial? Let us know in the comments below.