Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Selling the NHL has been a tricky business. They seem to use two approaches when creating NHL commercials: dead serious with an emphasis on tradition, and incredibly silly. Personally, I tend to prefer the latter, like the ones shown in this montage.

"Swedish twins? I thought that was just a myth!"

The GAME ON! commercials from 2005 declaring the NHL's return from the lockout were also very funny, like this one from that campaign featuring Marty Turco.

And why don't they make some more like NHL ROAD TRIP
? That was the last decent hockey commercial anyone has ever made.

However, the NHL and VERSUS seemingly has lost its sense of humor this time around. Though I was literally laughing out loud at one of the latest VERSUS commercials for the Pens/Lyers series last night, it was for a different reason. It was basically a loving B/W* montage of HOCKEY JESUS and a freeze frame that read "Sidney Crosby" for extra emphasis (as if we didn't already know). They then showed a bunch of shots of those nobodies over in Philly, whatever who cares, TUNE IN TO SEE SIDNEY PLAY SOME OTHER TEAM IN GAME 3 TONIGHT! Yes, the ratings on VERSUS have been on the upswing, and I realize that Sid is a big part of the selling of the league but that's ridiculous. And those high ratings, the best for the network since they began showing the NHL 3 years ago, have everything to do with two cities (Philly and Pittsburgh) that have firmly entrenched hockey fan bases and little to do with marketing.
(*Why do the latest batch of VERSUS commericals use that "black and white" gimmick? I feel like I'm watching a 1947 newsreel before the latest "talkie" begins. How about you use some HIGH DEFINITION FOOTAGE? There might be some of it laying around somewhere.)

ESPN is doing its part to undermine the appeal of the NHL by featuring Don Cherry on SportsCenter as their "hockey expert", and I'm beginning to long for the good old days (last week) when they barely acknowledged that the league existed. For his new job, he apparently decided to buy some even LOUDER suits. (Think about that one for a minute.) They've only provided the league with negative publicity as they've already had to "edit" some of Cherry's characteristically off-color commentary. I can only assume no one from ESPN listened to his previous body of work before hiring him, and instead some Bristol bigwig just picked up the phone and screamed: "Operator, get me Canada! [pause] Hello, Canada? Get us that hockey guy that dresses even more like a pimp than Barry Melrose and Stewart Scott combined, and tell him he's hired!"

The last time ESPN did right by hockey was this commercial from 1996, featuring Rob Ray as a security guard.


Even FOX had a good NHL ad (before they screwed the pooch with the glow puck).

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