SBD/January 4, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Nike's "Hockey Is Ours" TV Spot Addresses Fan Resentment Over NHL Lockout

Nike is "attempting to capitalize on the growing resentment" by NHL fans at yet another delayed season, running a new ad in which "players claim they don’t need the trappings of official sport to keep their love of hockey going," according to Susan Krashinsky of the GLOBE & MAIL. The NHL lockout is "a dilemma for marketers, who not only target hockey fans in Canada, but are accustomed to using the language of hockey to appeal to every Canadian." But that is "tricky" at a time when "fans are disappointed and angry." Nike's "is not the only advertising plan to address the impact of the dispute, though it is by far the most aggressive in its tone." Just a few days after that commercial launched, in the "lead-up to the world junior hockey championship, Royal Bank of Canada began airing a gentler spot with the same message -- that the lockout cannot take hockey away." RBC’s ad promotes its Play Hockey program, which "supports community hockey." That already was a "focus for RBC, which, like Nike, is not a league sponsor." For Nike, the "defiant commercial" via Wieden + Kennedy is just one more installment in a "long-running marketing approach." It has "dealt with labour disputes head-on in the past," including the NBA lockout in '11 (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/3). ADWEEK's David Gianatasio wrote, "Hockey die-hards should be stirred by this Nike spot that captures fans' passion for the game and, by implication, their displeasure with the ongoing NHL lockout." The ad "feels more sincere" than Nike's "Basketball Never Stops" campaign in '11, "mixing professional and Olympic stars with average folks who deliver lines that are heartfelt and defiant." Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin, currently "playing in Moscow because of the lockout, makes a nice brief cameo" (, 1/2).
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