"History Will Be Made"...was it?

Last season, the NHL rolled out a new advertising campaign simply called "History Will Be Made". When the NHL delved into the rich and momentous history that the playoffs brought, it was easy to find material to excite fans for the playoffs.

It asked hypothetical questions to NHL history. "What if Roy played like a Rookie?", or "What if Stevie Y didn't inspire Hockeytown?". Then, after every single game, whether or not history was made, the NHL rolled out another commercial with frequent misguided questions.

This one sticks out.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3BpyIrDUWs

"What if Leino didn't have the drive?" What does that line have to do with anything? The campaign itself seemed hit or miss.

On the heels of the campaign's success by influencing viewership in last year's playoffs, the NHL brought the commercials back with a little twist. Instead of asking questions, the word history itself was the focus of the commercial. Again, whether or not history was made, history acted on something.

At first, the NHL made one of the most powerful commercials I've ever seen.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ujaqq8GzXXc&feature=related

Here are some examples of some more successes from this year...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfoLlWxyjtk&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRTNqcOjlT8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJQ2IRbpW7Q&feature=related

At first, the second round of the commercial campaign seemed infectious. The NHL made a smart move by releasing the song for everyone to use. People ate this up and began making their own versions with past moments that the NHL missed. I made two of my own using my own Millersville hockey material. It was easy, fun, and it spread the NHL playoffs around throughout the Internet.

Once the playoffs began and some games did not contain anything too particularly special, the NHL still tacked on the epic "History" moniker with the somber music in the background. This seemingly oversold the game as something more than it actually was. These commercials promised something that could not be promised. Sure, some records were snapped and history was made. Not after every single game, though.

Often, these commercials seemed uninspired. It felt as if the creators of these commercials scraped the bottom of the barrel to find a phrase using the word "history" to explain a sometimes common hockey game that occurred in the playoffs. The NHL could have been praying for the Blackhawks or the Red Wings to come back from 3-0 down to make a truly influential "History Will Be Made" commercial.

In the commercials this year, we also heard way too much input from the analysts. In past commercials, it was just the call. As the broadcaster myself, I feel like it's our job to make the moment. That should be highlighted. I feel like I heard enough of Darren Pang, Pierre McGuire, Ray Ferraro, Eddie Olcyzk, Brian Engblom, and the rest of them. This year's campaign felt like a disappointment when it hit the ground running.

Here are some examples of ads that did not work this year.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciD7HbIMXl0&feature=channel_video_title
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYNEvSRPWPE&feature=channel_video_title

I cannot argue the basic notion of advertising. It's all about the money. It's all about the views. It's all about the revenue. The campaign wasn't even close to a failure. The ratings on Versus continued to rise throughout the playoffs. The exposure of these commercials spanned several different modes of communication.

Though from a fan's perspective, no emotional attachment existed. The Checking Line's own Alicia Jean said that she loved the commercials not about the present playoff year. The ones that were about this year only made her shake her head. Too true. This year's "History Will Be Made" felt cliche and over the top.

The NHL communicated a frustrating and cliche message to get views. The League has always owned a wonderful advertising history. "The Cup Changes Everything" series is just one that comes to mind. It just felt oversold this year.

You make the call. Was history made?

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Stay tuned to The Checking Line for the best hockey coverage throughout the Stanley Cup Final. Follow me on Twitter at @jckuhns and Alicia at @ActiveStick_44

Comments

George Prax's picture

Great blog. I do agree that the seem to be milking it this year but also I guess they weren't expecting it to go viral last year... natural progression of things I guess. Truth is the one thing the NHL certainly does right is marketing more often than not, so I'll give them a pass this year. Truth be told these commercials are obviously meant for casual and non-fans, not the people who love the sport enough to blog and broadcast about it lol