SBD/Issue 20/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Smells Like Teen Spirit: NHL Targets Young Fans With Comic Deal

All 30 Superheroes Will Have Five Special
Powers, Including One Specific To Each Team

The NHL's new partnership with comic designer Stan Lee to create a stable of hockey superheroes "targets the bull’s-eye of the NHL’s latest marketing drive -- the so-called 'tween boys' ages 9 to 16," according to Mark Zwolinski of the TORONTO STAR. NHL Exec VP/Marketing Brian Jennings said, "It certainly goes for that target group, but you also hope for a halo effect. You don’t want to be exclusionary." Jennings added that the superheroes, one for each NHL team, "live out typical good guy/bad guy comic book themes, but are not solely devoted to the hockey world." He said, "Imagine 30 characters. There’s lots of material for storylines." Zwolinski reports an online game is available starting Friday, ahead of the formal unveiling at the NHL All-Star Game in January, "offering a sneak peek at the project." In addition, "comics, a complete digital franchise, and merchandise, will come out over the winter" (, 10/8). USA TODAY's Bill Keveney notes each Guardian superhero will have "five powers, including one tied to his team." The Flames character, for example, "will have control over fire," while the Flyers character "can go airborne." The superheroes are "not being developed from existing mascots," though the teams "had a role in designing heroes to reflect themselves." The characters will "work together and separately, although there will be friction between those representing traditional rivalries" (USA TODAY, 10/8). In Boston, Donna Goodison reports a "Harry Potter-esque novel, animated TV series and major motion pictures also are planned." Guardian Media Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Adam Baratta: "We worked hand-in-hand with the NHL over the last 10 months to specifically design each character not only to look and feel like the moniker, but to be infused with the spirit that represents the fans of each hometown" (BOSTON HERALD, 10/8).

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