Ad of the Day: NHL

Y&R looks to the past once again in its latest evocative spot for the Stanley Cup Final

When the Edmonton Oilers won the Stanley Cup in 1988, Wayne Gretzky insisted on having a team photo taken on the ice—with not just the players but management, coaches, trainers, scouts and various assistants as well. It was one of the great moments in the career of hockey's greatest player—he would learn just hours after that game that his time with the Oilers would be over—and the photo on the ice is a tradition that has been repeated by every Stanley Cup-winning team since.

The tradition is now at the center of a new National Hockey League spot from Young & Rubicam in New York for the Stanley Cup Final series, which begins Wednesday night between the New Jersey Devils and the Los Angeles Kings. It's the third in a trilogy of sorts that began in 2008 with the "Cup Raise" spot and continued in 2010 with "No Words." All three spots follow a simple and effective formula. With moving piano scores in the background, they show archival footage of previous Stanley Cup celebrations—the lifting of the cup itself; the players left speechless in post-game interviews; and now, the team photo—and let the sport's history speak for itself. Each ad also wraps with a single poignant line. "It weighs 35 pounds … except when you're lifting it," the first spot said. "There are no words," said the second. And this new spot, full of gleeful faces and scrums of bodies mugging for the camera, wraps with the line "It makes boys out of men."

On the one hand, you could say there's nothing too special about these spots. Archival footage and clever end lines nomally don't make for much of a masterpiece. And yet, the ads are undeniably powerful. They tap into a history and tradition that's peculiar and idiosyncratic, and worth celebrating regardless of which team actually wins the Cup. (The two teams involved this year are just guests at the party, almost incidental to the larger narrative.) And by sidestepping the more obvious plots—e.g., Devils and Kings players actually playing hockey—the spots recognize that the glory of past Cups more compellingly sets the table for this one than focusing on two teams that have yet to meet.

The new spot breaks tonight during Game 1. At the end of the deciding game, whenever that may be, the cameras will be rolling—capturing footage for future spots in this most historical of sports promo campaigns.

CREDITS

Client: NHL

Spot: "Boys"

Agency: Young & Rubicam, New York

Chief Creative Officer: Jim Elliott

Creative Director: Cliff Skeete

Associate Creative Directors, Copywriters: Jonathan Graham, Bruce Jacobson

Art Director: Cliff Skeete

Broadcast Producer: Jona Goodman

Head of Production: Nathy Aviram

Account Director: Marc Rappin

Account Executive: Chad Oliver

Editorial Company: Comso Street Editorial

Editor: Steve Bell

Executive Producer: Maura Woodward

Producer: Stacey Piculell

Color Correct: Nice Shoes

Color Artist: Lez Rudge

Effects: Switch FX

VFX Aritst: Jon Magel

Producer Diana Dayrit

Mixing: Heard City

Mixer: Phillip Loeb

Music: Future Perfect

Composer: Victor Magro