Pure Hockey Commercials Part IV

By Jeff Copetas, VP of Marketing & E-Commerce

Our last post provided some insight into how we, um, “casted” the commercials and included interviews with the “actors,” who actually turned out to be GREAT actors even though they weren’t actually actors. Did that make sense? Either way, today, in our fourth and final installment of a look behind the curtain at the making of the Pure Hockey TV commercials, we’ll look at the day we shot the Brad Marchand commercial and also have a quick chat with the man behind the vision, Director and Devils fan Rodrigo Lopez.

We were originally scheduled to shoot the Brad Marchand commercial on September 13, exactly one day after we shot the David Clarkson commercial down in New Jersey. There was just one problem: Marchand hadn’t signed a contract yet with the Bruins. So during the David Clarkson shoot, I found myself on the phone with Brad’s agent, trying to figure out what was going on. Then I went to Boston.com and saw trade rumors. We had a decision to make – spend the money on a TV production shoot for a player who might not play in Boston or roll the dice and shoot the commercial and hope Marchand signed? What would you do? He was skating with the team, so that was a good sign, right? Despite that, we opted out of shooting the commercial the next day – too risky.

The problem with that – we’d have to find a way to schedule Brad during the NHL season and let me tell you, that wasn’t easy. At all. Not only are you trying to coordinate the schedules of a TV production team at Neoscape, you’re also trying to schedule the two main actors and THEN Brad’s schedule. We had a few hit-and-misses and finally, finally, finally were able to shoot the commercial on Sunday, November 13th, the night after the Bruins played Buffalo and now known as the game where Milan Lucic ran over Ryan Miller.

All well and good. Most of us arrived at the Pure Hockey Braintree store at about 9am and it wasn’t long before we were shooting the first few scenes. In both TV shoots, we tried to get as much of the non-Marchand/Clarkson video shot before the player actually got there. So the scenes where Lou and Brian (store manager and assistant manager) are talking to each other were shot in the morning and the scenes with Brad were shot completely seperate, despite the fact that the commercial seems to flow pretty well. Tribute to Neoscape there (and all other TV production firms, I suppose this happens every day).

So Brad arrives at about 2pm and we usher him right into the office for prep and to sign a few things for the store. Keep in mind that we are contracted with Brad for only a few hours, so we wanted to keep his coming into Braintree pretty quiet to avoid too much fandom and to get our commercial shot. The first shot we did with Brad was the helmet scene, which seems to be people’s favorite, in general. Originally the helmet scene was a little more friendly. The way Neoscape had story-boarded this, Brad was to give the customer a few taps, fairly hard – and that’s how the first few shots went. Originally it was Brad giving him a pat on the head in quick succession – taptaptap. But it wasn’t enough. And it wasn’t hard enough. So we did another couple of takes with the taps in quick succession.

But something was missing. So I asked Rodrigo and Brad to slow down the hits, space them out a little, make ’em a little harder, then have a slightly odd pause – and then a final WHACK! That is what you see in the final version. Good stuff!

It wasn’t long, though, before word got out about Brad being in our store. In this immediate news world, people were posting to Twitter and Facebook that he was at the Braintree store shooting a commercial and soon enough, we had small crowds around us during each scene. Manageable, but a little distracting. We expected it on a Sunday in our busiest store, so it wasn’t a huge deal and Brad couldn’t have been more accomodating and patient with people. He signed a lot of stuff, posed for a lot of pictures and was very friendly.

We finished up about 6pm and that was that! The commercial came out awesome and the general public seems to have agreed!

One other funny little story – Brad hadn’t heard the comments that Ryan Miller made about Lucic, so we showed him the video in the office. He got a kick out of it for sure.

Finally, our verbosity about these commercials wouldn’t be complete without some input from the Director of both shoots, Neoscape’s Rodrigo Lopez. I haven’t done many TV commercial shoots, but I can tell you without pause that Rodrigo and the rest of his team were instrumental – no, crucial – in making sure these things went off without a hitch. To a person, the Neoscape crew was friendly, patient, fun and most importantly, super-prepared and focused. It was an absolute pleasure working with these guys. Here’s a quickie interview with Rodrigo:

So you directed all three Pure Hockey commercials over the past few months. Besides the total, complete, life-changing thrill of working with a company like Pure Hockey (ahem), what was the most enjoyable part of the process?

Well, there’s all the fame, fortune and recognition, which has been somewhat life-changing. But in all seriousness, what I enjoyed the most was watching the plan come together during shoot days. We always like to prepare just enough so that you leave room for spontaneity, particularly when there isn’t any time to rehearse. That approach definitely helped with these three spots.

Were these commercials materially different in any way than others that you’ve done in the “normal” course of your work?

These commercials were definitely a departure from the work I do on a daily basis at Neoscape, where I direct a lot of CG and VFX work for marketing films. We do a lot with live action and actors, but here the pressure was definitely on to direct spots that not only had to stand on their own, but be funny as well. We had good material to work with! Plus, we do our best work under pressure so this was a welcome challenge.

Were you surprised by how well our two store employees (Lou and Brian) were on camera? I mean, we basically had no cast for these things until the day of the first commercial!

I thought Marchand and Clarkson were incredibly funny, each in their own way, but I can’t imagine these spots with anyone other than Lou and Brian. They were awesome! When they first read for us on the morning of the Clarkson shoot down in Fairfield, I knew we had our guys. They looked like they had just walked off the set of Clerks – another Jersey masterpiece. I remember thinking to myself as we were wrapping up the shoot in New Jersey, “we need to get these guys up to Boston for the shoot at the Braintree store.” Luckily Jeff was able to make it work.

It’s a small sample size, but what were your thoughts and impressions re: working with professional athletes?

I’m not a big celebrity hound, but the few times I’ve been around athletes, and hockey players in particular, I’ve found them to be very humble and altogether normal. Clarkson and Marchand were no different. As a Devils fan I was excited to meet David Clarkson. I’ve been watching him drop gloves on TV for years but in person he was very down to earth and a super nice guy. Heck, I even had to show him how hard to check one of the employees during the shoot because he was afraid of hurting the guy! And what can you say about Brad Marchand? Everyone saw what he did in the playoffs during the Bruins Cup run last summer, and then for several weeks after that around every bar in Boston. I was even wondering if he’d show up to the shoot shirtless (he didn’t). On the day of his shoot in Braintree there were a ton of customers in the store, and he managed to not only put in one heck of a performance for the cameras, but also found time to sign plenty of autographs.

What was the most difficult part of the shoots, in your eyes?

I can’t think of anything that was particularly difficult, but shoots are always a bit nerve wracking. For the two player spots we were limited to a few hours with the talent – that’s where planning and a great crew make all the difference. I can say that often times what makes a shoot difficult is an over anxious clients, but working with Jeff/Pure Hockey was totally different. We collaborated very seamlessly during the creative and planning stages, and he had complete confidence in us once we went into the shoots. He even delivered his own award-winning performance as “the customer” in the Clarkson spot.

You think the Devils have ANY chance this year?

I really hope so. As a fan, I used to get a lot of mileage out of the fact that they won 3 cups in 8 years. But now that’s quickly becoming a distant memory. Plus, Brodeur needs one more cup to end his Hall of Fame career in style.

Norwalk, Connecticut Store Profile

Here’s another post in our series of Pure Hockey store profiles. The Pure Hockey store in Norwalk, CT is one of our newest, having opened up in July 2010 and at roughly 12,000 square feet of space, it’s roughly in the middle-to-average when it comes to the sizes of our stores. Situated just off of Route 95, the Norwalk store is about an hour north of New York City and an hour south of Hartford. Needless to say, there is quite a bit of hockey being played in that area!

You can see some pictures and a video tour of our Norwalk store right here.

The crew down in Connecticut is a great group of hockey lifers and real knowledgeable about both lacrosse and hockey. Evan Gauthier manages the store, he started out in our Nashua location and did so well that we gave him the store down in Norwalk shortly after it opened. Evan has managed the store to terrific growth since we opened down there and always has his eyes on the ball. Or puck.

We decided to take a minute to ask Evan some quick questions so you can know him a little better. Here we go…..

1.  How did you first get into the game of hockey?

Not really sure how it started but I was about 7 when I started skating and once I got on skates I just never looked back.  My dad has always been a huge Bruins fan so I think that was the biggest influence to my wanting to skate.

2. What’s the biggest difference for you regarding hockey equipment from when you were a kid vs. the gear available today?

The gear now is so much lighter.  I still have some of my old stuff in my parents garage and it weighs so much more than the stuff now.  The sticks are crazy different too.  I used a wood stick until I was a freshman in high school.

3. What are you using for gear these days? Anything you’re dying to try out?

I have always been pretty much a loyal CCM person.  I have the 11K Reebok skates and the X:60 stick.  My gloves are CCM U+12.  I am really looking forward to seeing the new Bauer Nexus gear.  Looks real comfortable.

4.  What was your first impression of Pure Hockey when you first saw a store?

I remember walking into the original Pure Hockey in Marlboro when it was closer to the rink.  I was just blown away as a kid by all the stuff in the store.  It was pretty overwhelming as a little kid and there is just shelves upon racks upon walls of gear everywhere.

5.  What was the last thing you laughed really hard at?

Last thing I laughed really hard at would have to be a few months ago I left my house to go to work and got all the way to the car before I realized that I had left my keys inside my apartment and locked the door behind me.  Thankfully I had my cell phone and was able to call a cab to get to work.  Haven’t locked myself out since then.

Thanks Evan!


Fairfield, New Jersey Store Profile

By Jeff Copetas, VP of Marketing & E-Commerce

We’ll get back to writing about those TV commercials soon. But one thing we’ll do a little more of here in 2012 is introduce you to the people behind our business. There’s no better place to start than our stores and our store managers. I started here in March of 2010 here in Marketing and before that, I’ve largely held internet/marketing jobs. I hadn’t worked in a retail store since 1993, when I stocked frozen & dairy food at the local Supermarket while I was in college in Kent, Ohio. I’m not sure that even counts as retail. If you want to talk TRUE retail, you’d have rewind it back even further to 1989, when I worked in a record store at a mall in Central Massachusetts.

So I haven’t necessarily forgotten what working in a retail environment was like, but it had been a while – and Pure Hockey is a totally different retail animal than anything I’ve ever seen before. These are not $9.99 albums or eggs and milk. We’re talking about hundreds – and sometimes thousands – of dollars of people’s money here.

Anyway, long-story-short, I’ve developed a huge respect for the guys and gals out there who manage and work in our stores. It is a hard job. Yes, there are slow periods, as with any retail store, but when you see it enough and even experience it, you can’t help but have a deep appreciation for what these guys endure and go through.

Anyway, we want to open the doors and introduce you to some of our staff. We’re gonna start as far south as Pure Hockey goes (right now), down in Fairfield, New Jersey. Our newest store, the Fairfield shop is roughly 15,000 square feet and opened in July of 2010. I’m only speaking for myself here, but I believe the Fairfield store is our best looking store in the chain. This can be attributed to our Manager of Store Operations, Marc Pino, who you’ll meet in a later blog post. He had a fairly blank slate to build in that space and he chose wisely – nice floors, good colors, excellent lighting and fine touches all around.

You can see some pictures of our Fairfield store right here.

The New Jersey crew is a rock solid gang of hockey nuts and New Jersey Devils fans (our sympathies, hehehhee) and the store manager down there is Joe Carlino, who has managed the opening of the store (complete with inevitable setbacks) and its superb growth for the last year-and-a-half. We took a few minutes to ask Joe some quick questions about his experience at the store, what gear he wears and some other stuff too. Enjoy.

1. How did you first get into the game of hockey?

I’ve been involved in hockey since I can remember. I wish I could give a specific incident that made me love the game as much as I do, but I can’t remember one.

2. What’s the biggest difference for you regarding hockey equipment from when you were a kid vs. the gear available today?

The technology and performance of the gear today is light years ahead of where it was when I was a kid. The composite stick is a great example.

3. What are you using for gear these days? Anything you’re dying to try out?

I skate out sometimes, but I usually play goal. I also own way too much hockey equipment, but this is what I’m using most of the time:

Goalie Bag:

– Brian’s Subzero pads, gloves, blocker

– Vaughn 7600 c/a and breezers

One80 skates

– Promasque XDK,  Hackva, or Eddy Custom Kevlar mask.

– I usually use a 9950 (p41, 26″) stick, but I’ve been trying out some composites to see if I can get used to them.

Player Bag:

– Vapor XXXX pro stock gloves

– Unidentifiable CCM elbows, shins, and breezers (I’ve had them for the better part of a decade, and I can’t find a logo to give you a model- they wore off)

CCM U+ pro shoulder pads

CCM V08 Helmet

Oakley half shield

– One80 skates

– I am currently using an Easton RS  and an S19 (Iginla 100)

One of my favorite parts of the job is getting to see the new gear before it hits the stores. I love the opportunity to demo anything, but I’d really like to try out some Reebok goalie gear.

4. What was your first impression of Pure Hockey when you first saw a store?

Haha…I hadn’t seen anything like it! When I went for my original interview, the New Jersey store was still under construction. I couldn’t believe a store that size could be just for hockey equipment. When I went up to Massachusettes to be trained and walked into the Berlin store for the first time, I think I realized this was definitely the right job for me.

5. What was the last thing you laughed really hard at?

The Devils game last night – they let up 6 goals on 14 shots. Sometimes, you have to just have to laugh!

Thanks Joe!

Interview with Rob Howland, Pure Hockey and Pure Goalie Buyer

Today Pure Goalie has hijacked the Pure Hockey blog to interview the Senior Buyer of Pure Hockey (and Pure Goalie), Rob Howland. Rob has been with Pure Hockey since its inception in 1994, so he’s pretty much seen it all, from the stores to the arenas to the corporate office. His knowledge of gear is second-to-none! Rob grew up in Massachusetts and was a goaltender for the University of Maine in the late 1980s and early 1990s, at a time when the Black Bears had a dominant presence on the college hockey scene. Let’s go for a ride as Rob talks about the opening of the brand new Pure Goalie stores in Berlin and Braintree, MA……

1. So…..why a Pure Goalie store? Why now?

It was time – time to show to our goalie customers that we are back in the goalie business.  There is no question that Pure Hockey took some time off and left some goalies without a great local store to shop at.  It was time to bring it back for them

2. How will this be different than the goalie sections at Pure Hockey before?

The Pure Goalie stores are going to be exactly that – nothing but goalie.  The first real Pure Goalie concept store is now open in Braintree, MA.  There is over 4,000 square feet of only goalie products, and we were fortunate enough  to team up with the leaders in the industry, Reebok, Bauer, Vaughn, and Brians to bring this idea to fruition.  It will be a place that goalies will just want to hang out, and the best part is that there are many more ideas that we have to make the experience even better – so keep an eye out.  The Pure Goalie stores will be filled with all the latest products,  a massive amount of inventory and will have a huge array of colors to choose from.  There will also be some products that will be exclusive to Pure Hockey – products that we made some modifications to in order to try and improve what already exists – and if there is something that the customer is looking for, we would be happy to hear their ideas.

3. As a goalie yourself, talk about how much has changed on the gear side for goalies since the ‘80s and even the ‘90s

hen I was playing, the products lacked a lot of protection, and everything was so heavy compared to today.  Growing up, my chest protector was only that, a chest protector, and I had separate arm pads.  My pads were filled with deer hair, and other stuffing, and they were water logged after each game.  It wasn’t until I got to college in the late 80’s/early 90’s that the equipment started to get to where it is today.  Even colors weren’t around when I was younger, it was what everyone calls “vintage” now – and that was the choice.  With today’s game, the products are bigger, lighter and in most cases more flexible.

4. What’s the last thing you laughed really hard at?

Everyday with my kids, especially my 2 year old daughter – she cracks me up with some of the things she will come out with

5. As a buyer, what do you consider to be the driving  factors in what goalie gear Pure Hockey decides to carry?

First of all is the product, does it have shelf appeal – is it cool looking?  Does it have the features that it needs for the price points that we sell it for, is the quality of the product where it needs to be, and if it is not, can we change it to make it better?  I look at prices of the products, I look at history of certain products and vendors.  I travel to the manufactures to see how things are put together, and that gives me a better appreciation of what actually goes into making a pair of pads.  I ask our goalie employees their opinions and to get their ideas on trends.  I am in rinks most of the winter with a 7 year-old playing and I watch what people are wearing and I ask questions.  There are so many factors that go into it, but ultimately, the most important one is – will it sell??

6. Tell an interesting, amusing or memorable story about your days as a goalie at UMaine

I think for me, a kid coming out of a small town in Central Massachusetts, then going to a school that, at the time, was ranked continuously in the top 5 in the country, walking on to  the team, being around such talent, going to practice everyday and playing with those guys was amazing.  I was a fan of the team, and then I am part of the team and skating onto that ice, coming out for games and how loud the Alfond Arena was, it was just crazy.  The fans up there were the best, the place was always sold out and teams hated coming up there.  So here’s a story: during my sophomore year we were heading out the Frozen Four in St. Paul, MN, playing in the rink which at the time had those glass boards and the glass went all the way down to the ice, remember that place?  It was a rink that I always wanted to see and to skate in, and we were heading there!  On the way out to Minnesota, we had stops first in Manchester, NH, and then to Chicago, then on to Minnesota.  On the way out, I started feeling like crap – my stomach was killing me, to the point that I could no longer sit, so I just stood up in the back, bent over.  We finally landed in Chicago, where they had a wheelchair waiting for me. So they wheeled me down to where our connecting flight was  and I remember Coach Walsh yelling at the flight attendant that they gave me food poisoning, but I had to tell him that I did not eat anything on the plane.  They wheeled me down the walkway, where an ambulance was waiting and we went to a Chicago hospital while the team flew to Minnesota.  The next day I had my appendix removed, spent two days in the hospital and flew to meet the team in Minnesota. The problem was I met them at the airport there because they had lost to Northern Michigan the night before and I never did get to see that rink – which since then has been torn down.