NEW YORK As the National Hockey League gears up for its second season, cable network Versus is looking to reach fans as their teams make it to the playoffs and beyond.
On Monday it launched an integrated campaign from independent Taxi, New York, consisting of a mix of 30- and 20-second spots directed by Tony Kaye, who also directed American History X, promoting the NHL playoffs, which begin on April 9.
In the 30-second "I Am the Stanley Cup Playoffs," iconic images such as a flashing red goal light, octopi being thrown onto the ice in Detroit and a Champagne bottle being popped flash by on screen as a deep-voiced narrator utters statements like "I am a cult following."
"Octopus is good on salad, but it takes on a different meaning in Detroit," said Bill Bergofin, svp, marketing, Versus, based in Stamford, Conn. At Detroit Red Wings games there is a tradition of throwing octopi onto the ice after the team wins.
Banner ads on sites including sportingews.com, cbssports.com and aolsports.com will show highlights of the previous night's games as well as allow fans to subscribe to a mobile text service that will alert them when a game goes into overtime or when a team they select is about to play.
"We wanted to utilize text messaging where people could opt in to get alerted when there is an overtime or a game they care about," said Wayne Best, ecd, Taxi.
In addition, Versus will pose questions during the game that viewers can text answer and have their responses read on the air. Versus' move is similar to what TSN, which broadcasts hockey in Canada, has been doing since December in conjunction with Bud Light. TSN's effort, dubbed Bud Light PlayAction Live, lets fans answer trivia question and do things such as predict when the next goal will be scored in an effort to win prizes.
Print, which will run in publications such as Sports Illustrated, Hockey News and the TV trade press, depicts a silhouette of a player hoisting the Stanley Cup above his head in a victorious pose. The player is made up of tiny sentences highlighted in different colors that say things such as "I am 27 stitches," "I am the best Champagne you will ever taste" and "I am the overachieving veteran."
On versus.com/stanleycup, which is not live yet, users will be able to view highlights from past playoff games and offer their comments. "We wanted to bring people back through the history of hockey and what makes hockey great and what makes the playoffs great," said Bergofin.