NHL Ad Called Gratuitous


An ad, unveiled Wednesday night, promoting the upcoming NHL season which opens with a Chinese philosopher's quote, a bare-chested player and a woman in a bra and robe has been called offensive by Chairwoman of the National Council of Women's Organizations Martha Burk, the woman who led an unsuccessful attempt three years ago to get the Augusta National golf club to admit women. Responding to NHL spokeswoman Bernadette Mansur's assessment the spot simply portrays the woman as the man's spiritual trainer, Burk said, "That's a major stretch. The woman is a sexual ornament, in my view. It's appealing to adult men while trying to masquerade as something for kids."

The ad, which is hardly gratuitous and carries the tagline, "My NHL," was directed by MTV Video Music Awards winner Sam Bayer. Conductor, a California-based ad agency, produced the spots, which were filmed in British Columbia. The campaign, which break Monday, September 26, is set to air on NBC, Outdoor Life Network, and Canada's TSN. The ad can be viewed on the homepage of NHL.com.

by Steve Hall    Sep-24-05   Click to Comment   
Topic: Cable, Campaigns, Commercials, Television   

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As a Canadian and therefore a diehard hockey fan, my comment is that these new commercials are purely designed for the US market. The ads lack personality, as in star players and are a poor attempt to sell a great game by way of a mock production. Forget the gratuitous factor, this commercial will not put one butt in an NHL rick that wasn't planning on being there in the first place. For the NHL to succeed in parts of the US that still think most Canadians are fluent in the Eskimo language of Tukkapuck'eh, baseball will have to be declared akin to watching astroturf grow ;-)

Posted by: Glenn Davies on September 25, 2005 3:10 AM

This spot is the kind of bombast I'd expect from WWF.
But it's sorely lacking the sense of humor
that the WWF would, at least, include. Crap.

Posted by: KRank on September 25, 2005 3:14 PM

Glenn, Why would you assume that the ad was purely designed for the US market? As an American hockey fan and a women I found this comment and the spot to be blatently offensive.
You are right the ad lacks personality, the woman wasn't necessary to the ad. She was there solely as eye candy.
This only confirms that the people who made the spot aren't hockey fans and they didn't do any research on hockey or what it's fans like about the game, not that American hockey fans would respond any more or less than Canadian hockey fans would to this type of crap advertising.

Posted by: Cheryl on September 26, 2005 9:31 AM

Cheryl, believe me when I say that the perception in Canada for the past 10 years has been that Gary Bettman and his management group (ex-NBA guy and American) are managing the marketing of hockey to appeal to the US market and the uneducated and largely uninterested fan in that market (i.e. FOX Network's famous glowing and fire-tailing puck).

Yes, there are many diehard and true Amercian hockey fans (glad to meet your acquaintance ;-), but the truth is, these commercials are being laughed at in Canada, not for their lack of sensitivity toward women (do you read Cosmo btw - what's different from their covers and this ad), but for the overall concept. We are not having a problem filling hockey rinks in Canada, the problem is getting a ticket. These ads are for Phoenix, LA, Tampa et al.

Posted by: Glenn Davies on September 26, 2005 12:50 PM

Hey, Cheryl, one more thought. Why no outrage over the beef-cake presentation of a hockey player? Just asking.

Posted by: Glenn Davies on September 26, 2005 2:04 PM

Glenn, I think it's safe to say that we both agree that overall concept of the ad sucks. It's your rationale that I disagree with. It's unfair to characterize American hockey fans as uneducated and uninterested, disenfranchised maybe. It's hard to stand behind the NHL when both sides are so greedy.
I have been a season tix holder to an AHL team for the last 5 years and could never imagine paying the price for an NHL tix to see most of the same AHL players (The same goes for baseball).
I am not a Cosmo reader and I don't see any difference in Cosmo ads and the hockey ad, they both use sex to sell whether it's a man or a womamn, it's degranding to both sexes and perpetuates stereotypes.
I don't see the "Hockey player" as a beef-cake because it would not be out of the ordinary for a real hockey player to look like that or to be sitting in the locker, however, a half naked woman caressing him is out of the ordinary. The ad is blatantly sexist and dumb.

Posted by: Cheryl on September 26, 2005 3:13 PM

Cheryl, I appreciate your comments. I am not characterizing American hockey fans as uneducated, but I am certainly suggesting that Mr. Bettman and his crew have been treating Americans that way. His blatant attempts to change the rules of the game to make it more palatable for 'primarily' the US television market are the subject of major dissent on this side of the border.

Canada is a hockey crazy country, I honestly don't think you understand the level of passion that most here, particularly males, have for the game. We don't care if there is little interest for the game in Phoenix or Miami, heck if I lived there I might be more into golf, tennis, and other outdoor sports. Just don't mess with the game and I am sure you would agree with me on that one.

As for the beef-cake hockey player, the only reason to show an actor, not a real player with his jersey off, instead of a REAL NHL star flying down the wing and blasting a high one to the top corner, is to sell women (doesn't do anything for me ;-). You must agree that the commercial fails on both counts.

We agree then - the ad is dumb.

Posted by: Glenn Davies on September 26, 2005 6:12 PM

Sorry...there are a lot of commercials to pick on other than that 1 second shot. Sounds like Mrs. Burk is using it springboard for herself. What do you all think?

Posted by: John Daniels on September 27, 2005 11:06 PM


Canada? think not. No one in the right mind will argue that hockey is a Canadian sport (although British may as they really were the firts ones:))
but, out of 30 teams only 6 are located in Canada, so Mr. Betman has every right to "americanize" the sport to insure the survival.
Majority of the revenue (TV, tickets sales, etc) is cgenerated from American based teams, paid by folks living south of the border - so who do you think has the right to call the shots here?

Posted by: Tony on October 12, 2005 10:59 PM

I suggest you discuss some 'Hooked on Phonics' commercials instead, more specifically the 'How to Order' portion of them.

'No one in the right mind will argue that hockey is a Canadian sport'

Take your ignorant pill today?

Hockey was created in Canada and is, still to this day, dominated by Canadian hockey players.

If our dollar was even with the US dollar....we would have 6 of the bigger revenue generating teams in the league.
I would argue that there is BARELY 10 US teams that are stable and considered a 'successful franchise'.

Per capita the NHL owes Canada an awful lot. A 10th the size and we have 20% of the teams.

We would have 8 teams if Mr.Bettman wasn't so intent on "American-izing" the game. I suppose you'd try to tell me how Carolina, Nashville, Miami, Phoenix, Anaheim locations are "good for the game" right? Look at them! They draw flies. It makes the entire league look bad.

How dare you say hockey isn't Canadian. I would let it slide if you made it clear that you were just an ignorant American, if you are...sorry for being so harsh on you. It's not your fault you're ignorant. If you're Canadian.....you should be deported.

Posted by: Jeffrey93 on November 7, 2005 1:03 PM