Pure Hockey TV Commercials Part I

I can tell you without hesitation that when my boss, our CEO, walked into my office one day last March and expanded our marketing budget for 2011, I didn’t push back or ask for more. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, man! With the assignment of spending X additional dollars floating in my mind, I dreamed about all the possibilities and grand ideas that I could muster. Obviously I thought about all the possibilities with social media, our website, our stores, etc. And then, of course, I thought about TV.

I’ve seen a few hockey retailer’s TV ads. They are well done. They convey the basic message and core value of their businesses. They made sure that production was clearly professional. But they are not my style and more importantly, they are not OUR style.

It would make sense to interject here with a little bit about my own personality. I am an absolute sucker for a cheap laugh and I will take ’em any way I can get them. My favorite movies are “Airplane!” and “Dumb and Dumber.” See what I’m getting at? I mean, look at this monkey on my desk!

Give me something patently absurd or juvenile and I will be your friend for life. With that said, I set out to think of ways we could make people laugh. Here at the office we’ve always had a list of running video gags that we’d like to use for viral/YouTube videos, so those were playing in my mind, too, as I thought about the type of TV commercial spots I’d like to run. So I knew I didn’t want some boring spot that just shows our stores or dull videos of our skate walls. I don’t think those kind of ads were suited for this particular brand campaign. Advertising is all about creating something memorable and to get people talking about your brand. If we put a spot out there that tells you we have hundreds of different gloves and sticks, you wouldn’t remember it a week later. You need something memorable.

So I ran through a couple of completely odd and absurd scenarios in my head, One idea was a total rip-off of those horribly annoying prescription drug commercials, which I think was pretty darn funny. That one got to the script phase, but we ended up scrapping it for the ones you see on TV now.

In tandem with this (during March 2011) I had to start thinking about who we wanted in the ads. We weren’t going to shoot for the moon – the elite players command very high dollars. So we wanted to secure players who we felt best exemplified our personality – the hard-working, established NHL player who can score and still be nails. I collaborated with our store manager down in Fairfield, New Jersey and we came up with David Clarkson of the Devils – a fan favorite down there and a guy who can play.

Up here in Boston, we originally went for Milan Lucic, but he declined, saying he wanted to take the summer and really focus on hockey, working out and getting ready for the following season. Respectable. Our focus turned next to Brad Marchand, who wasn’t yet completely established, but was clearly an up-and-comer who could play the game with tenacity.

Lucky for us, both Clarkson and Marchand are represented by the same agency (Newport Sports) in Canada, so it wasn’t very difficult to secure both players and we were able to work through a single source to set up everything with both players.

So by March we were all set with David Clarkson and Brad Marchand. Tune in next time as we walk you through setting up the shoots, the complications of a Stanley Cup run and then actually meeting these guys and doing the TV shoot.

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