Nike Hockey


Nike World Juniors posted on December 19, 2012...

"If you want to take away hockey, you better take away Canada and everything in it. You better take every skate, stick and puck – every metal ruler, fallen tree branch and frozen hamburger. Every lake and every street. You better take away the whole entire country. Because we belong to this game, and this game belongs to all of us. Hockey is ours."

And thus began the Nike #HockeyIsOurs campaign.

Campaign Overview

Hockey is Canada's game: at least that's what Nike has you believing. And for the most part, this is true. The game has grown to be part of the Canadian identity, where millions from coast-to-coast are untied by the same passion.

At the time when the commercial was created, the NHL lockout kept fans away from the game and their team. There was a desperation to bring hockey back. Nike capitalized on this and reintroduced the game to an eager audience. This campaign was strategically timed to align with the 2012 World Juniors Tournament: the first real opportunity for a major broadcasted hockey event. As expected, this created excitement for the World Juniors Tournament. But even more importantly, it reminded the audience of Nike's commitment to the hockey category.

In typical Nike fashion, the campaign was simple, authentic, and had a clear message: hockey is ours. Not only does this refer to hockey belonging to Canada, but hockey belonging to Nike. Currently, Nike is the sponsor of Hockey Canada: producing the official Team Canada jerseys. The design and delivery of   these messages were integrated to create a message that would emotionally appeal to their target audience.

Message Design

The campaign is targeted to hockey fans that were emotionally affected by the NHL lockout. Professional and amateur athletes. The young and the old. Men and women. Family, friends, and hockey communities. All of these groups are united by their passion for the sport. Even more, all of these groups are represented in the commercial. Nike does not discriminate based on  demographic characteristics. Rather, it uses psychographic segmentation to target a group of consumers who view hockey as a lifestyle.  These consumers are emotionally invested in the sport, whether it's as a player, parent, or community organizer. For these individuals, hockey is more than a game; it's part of their identity. When asked to describe themselves, the target audience would identify as "hockey players." They value quality, performance, and a trusted brand when shopping for hockey equipment. Through the campaign, Nike hopes to leverage consumers' emotions to foster positive associations with the brand to increase their brand image. Since Nike is not a leader in the hockey product category, it is important to gain consumers' trust and have them develop a liking and preference towards the brand. Nike's communication objective is to leverage it's strong brand equity in other product categories to stimulate top-of-mind awareness when evaluating alternatives in the market for hockey equipment. In addition, it hopes to enforce conviction and inspire those to share their experience in post-purchase behaviour.

Message Delivery

This particular advertisement was used as a television commercial, and was later posted online on YouTube and Nike Hockey's Facebook page. The expectation is, once viewed on TV, the commercial could be revisited online and shared with one's social networks. Given the emotional appeal, viewers are more likely to share the content. As a result, this increases the reach beyond the original television audience, extending to those who might also be interested in the product or overall message of the commercial. This organic word-of-mouth advertising also helps gain the trust of consumers. Given the target audience's media consumption habits, the delivery strategy is consistent with marketing communications objectives: stimulate awareness and have consumers develop a liking and preference for the brand. Moreover, the success of the campaign is measurable through the use of these different media vehicles. On YouTube, the number of views is recorded. On Facebook, the number of people who "like" the page is tracked. In addition, Facebook can be used to gain information about the target audience (by viewing other pages they "like" or exploring their interests). Overall, Facebook is an opportunity to leverage the power of brand communities and engage with their target audience to strengthen relationships. In addition, Twitter was used to facilitate conversation using the hash tag #HockeyIsOurs. This is another important media tool used by the target audience that can be used to build trust, increase awareness, and have consumers develop a liking and preference for the brand.

Expanding the Campaign

To expand the campaign into an integrated marketing communications platform, Nike released a behind the scenes video of P.K. Subban filming one of the most bizarre moments of the commercial: using frozen hamburger patties as a puck. Though the video is only sixteen seconds long, it adds value to those who show greater interest in the campaign. Moreover, it didn't incur any additional costs for Nike, since the clip is an outtake from the original shoot. This integrates the advertising and public relations elements of the campaign. Nike uses additional content that would otherwise not be used, to create a richer experience for interested viewers. This builds conviction, thus influencing the consumer's evaluation of alternative in their purchase decision process. This video was released 8 days after the original commercial, and weeks before the NHL lockout was resolved. To capitalize on the release of the video, Nike could have created an experience for consumers.

KRAFT Hockey Goes On is a contest hosted by CBC, which encourages communities from coast-to-coast to share their hometown hockey stories. Throughout the course of the contest, KRAFT will award $1 million to hockey volunteers and their local hockey clubs. The spirit of the contest aligns perfectly with Nike's message in the #HockeyIsOurs campaign, demonstrating one's passion for the game while inspiring a sense of nationalism. This partnership would aim to build conviction and a positive attitude towards the brand. Nike could integrate into the KRAFT Hockey Goes On experience by adding Nike hockey equipment as part of the prize package. This would add goodwill and facilitate positive relationships with contest participants by putting their product in the hands of consumers. In addition, Nike could add an experiential element to the KRAFT Hockey Goes On contest. Leveraging the exposure of CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, Nike could showcase the talent of nominated volunteers and their respective hockey clubs in a sponsored skills competition. As part of the competition, one event could feature shooting frozen hamburgers like P.K. Subban. This would use humour to tie Nike with the experience. Not only would Nike reach the Hockeyville community, but the exposure on Hockey Night in Canada would extend to hockey fans across the country. This event integrates advertising and PR, which ultimately raises awareness for the brand while developing trusted relationships with consumers.

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