ESPN Touts Hockey Broadcasts

LOS ANGELES ESPN has broken an effort promoting its Thursday Night Hockey show.

The ads were created by independent agency Ground Zero in Marina del Rey, Calif. The theme: “The NHL on ESPN. Made in America, delivered on Thursdays.”

The campaign includes TV spots airing on ESPN and ESPN2 that portray hockey as a truly American game, as well as print ads running in ESPN The Magazine and radio executions running on ESPN Radio.

Spending on the campaign was undisclosed. The client in Bristol, Conn., spent $8 million on hockey ads in 2002, with $3 million spent during the fourth quarter, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Spending through September of this year was $3 million.

Six 30-second TV spots show workers in a hockey “factory” as they discuss items being produced. National Hockey League players Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Sergei Federov are shown overseeing the production of hockey and its American values.

One execution, “Imports,” has a factory worker, with the help of Federov, illustrating the importance and contributions of immigrants in the NHL. Another ad, “Purity,” has two purity inspectors suggesting they have the most important job at the factory. Giguere gives them a look that reminds them that arrogance is frowned upon in hockey.

“With this campaign, we wanted to make the claim that the hard-driven ideals and blue-collar work ethic that have made this country great are the same qualities that make the NHL and its players great,” said Lee Ann Daly, senior vice president of marketing for ESPN, in a statement.

ESPN’s second season of Thursday Night Hockey telecasts will begin on Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m.