More often than not, sports and sports network ads are targeted at males in the 16-35 age bracket. They tend to have a lot of adolescent humor or violence (much like beer commercials, which are targeted to the same group). But I recently discovered one of the best ad campaigns for sports I have ever seen in my life.
The ads are to promote the NHL Network. If you aren’t familiar with the NHL Network, it’s found on the Sports Tier of many cable companies (Charter, Comcast, Cablevision, Time Warner, etc). So yes, generally you have to pay a bit more to have it (along with the rest of the Sports Tier). Right now, since this is hockey’s off season, they are showing replays of the 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs, vintage games, amateur games, highlight specials and hockey academy. They have added a bottom line ticker, which currently is running information on free agents available, as well as any signings or other hockey news. They covered the hockey draft just recently.
This network has been a Godsend for my husband and myself. My husband is a real hockey fan – he has favorite teams, but he really loves the game itself. He even played locally until he was 40 and the midnight ice time conflicted with his 6 AM wake-up for work. He knows the rules of the game and picks up errors the announcers or officials make easily and quickly – before they get the call from the truck or from the “war room” in Toronto and prove that he was right. I’m a hockey fan, too, though not quite to the same degree. But I’d rather have a vintage hockey game on than some of the other summertime TV fare. (Whatever happened to reruns of the shows you missed in the winter because you were watching the live hockey then?)
So, what does all that have to do with commercials? As my husband has watched more of the NHL Network, I have become aware of an ad campaign they are running as “self-promotion.” The series of ads features a simple cast of characters – a coach and a number of members of a hockey team, generally either in the locker room or on the ice at practice. One – “Cliches” – has the coach giving a press conference after a game. These are really low budget commercials; no fancy sets or costumes, no stunt persons needed. But that is the beauty of this ad campaign. Someone was smart enough to figure out that the humor would carry the message.
The humor is hockey humor – hockey laughing at itself. The slightly rumpled coach, in his slouch hat, is a perfect charicature of the many hockey coaches I have listened to in the past – the circuitous speech, the cliche filled conversation that really says nothing. The beauty is in the writing of these ads. The writers should get some kind of prize for taking a single hockey phrase or term and turning it into these mind-teasing pep talks.
If you watch these ads superficially, you’ll chuckle. If you really watch them and pay attention to the facial expressions on the coach and players, if you really listen to what the coach says, then you realize that the ads are funnier than . . . I don’t know what. I do know that some of them are laugh out loud funny.
In addition to “Cliches,” there are 8 other ads in the campaign that I have seen thus far. They include “110%”, “There is no ‘I’ in hockey”, “Puckey”, “Taking a Good Penalty”, “Guys Behind You”, “Neutral Zone”, “Goals” and “Blue Line.”
If you have the NHL Network, check out these commercials. If you don’t have the NHL Network, you can still check them out on that wonder of the internet, “You Tube.” I happened upon them there when I was doing a search for something else.
If you are a hockey fan, you will love these and really get them. If you’re a sports fan, you’ll still find them amusing. If you hate sports, you’ll still find them tolerable.
Personally, I love them! Best commercials I seen in a long, long time.