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NHL 2010-11 Campaign Asks A Lot Of Questions, But Will Crosby, Ovechkin, Toews and Miller Have Answers?

Alex Ovechkin prepares for the 2010-11 season in a new ad campaign from the NHL.October 3, 2010: The National Hockey League is back in session, with its 2010-11 season opening this week. As a prelude, the league has unleashed a national advertising campaign that sets out to ask many more questions than it answers.

It accomplishes that goal in five new spots in "Questions Will Become Answers," which focuses on five of the league's top players: Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Jonathan Toews, Ryan Miller and Mike Cammalleri. The effort is devoid of on-ice action, opting instead to show the players in tough, gritty situations as they strenuously prepare for the quest ahead: winning the Stanley Cup. Voiceovers recreate the roles of sports talk analysts who banter about the players, the league and the places each player and their respective team might have in the coming season.

Each spot features a player performing a rigorous off-ice training routine while the sports talk radio analysts provide running commentary on team and player performances from last season and the outlook for the upcoming season.

The spots debuted this past weekend on NHL Network, NHL.com, YouTube and the official NHL fan page on Facebook. The spots will also air during games on Versus and in Canada. The campaign will also be supported through POP, social media platforms and online digital banners. In addition to the five national spots, 30 team-specific TV spots featuring players from each club were created for in-NHL market use. Each team also will have specific online creative: at the Washington Capitals Web site, for example, a banner asks such questions as: Will Ovechkin lead the league in scoring?  Will the Caps go all the way? Visitors are then linked to a poll where they can register their opinions.

Creative was developed in-house by the NHL with consulting by global ad agency Young & Rubicam.

“Each season, our fans bring a sense of anticipation and excitement to the start of the season,” Brian Jennings, NHL evp-marketing, said in a statement. “The campaign is intended to not only ask the provocative questions that fans have on their minds about their favorite teams but to also showcase the intense training and preparation the players endure to answer those questions.”

“The campaign is intended to not only ask provocative questions but to also showcase the intense training and preparation players endure to answer those questions.”

NHL Live! host Don La Greca and contributors E.J. Hradek and Billy Jaffe lend their voices to all five national spots and the 30 local commercials.

In one spot, Pittsburgh Penquins captain Sidney Crosby throws a heavy medicine ball and teeters on a balance board supported only by a metal pipe. "I've heard the Penguins called the next dynasty in hockey," the radio hosts ponder. "Right or wrong, that word dynasty comes with certain expectations. You've got to think the Penguins are going to come back this season hungrier than ever. Because once you've lifted the Stanley Cup all you want to do is lift it again. Clearly this team has the drive of a winner. But do they have the drive of a champion?"

In another, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin sweats as he snaps two heavy Tabata ropes back and forth. "On paper, [Washington is] maybe the best team in the league," observe the sports analysts. "But they looked pretty good on paper last year, too. Crazy things happen in the playoffs. Alex Ovechkin said it: 'What's done is done.' And they had all off-season to think about that early exit. And now you know they can't wait to get back on the ice. The only thing worse than playing against a talented team is playing against a talented team with a chip on their shoulder. Clearly the Caps are out to prove they are the best team in hockey. But are they?"

The new campaign sets the stage for NHL action this season, including the All-Star Game in January.Jonathan Toews, captain of the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, performs squats as the voiceovers muse about whether the Blackhawks have “what it takes [to] repeat as champs . . . They’ll have a target on their backs every night.” Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller works on his hand-eye coordination by rapidly bouncing tennis balls off a wall while the commentators ask, “Will these Sabres be the ones that win the Stanley Cup?” Montreal Canadiens forward Mike Cammalleri is seen flipping a huge tire on an outdoor court while the sports guys ponder, “Did the Canadiens just get hot at the right time, or are they really that good?”

Highlights of the upcoming season include the outdoor Bridgestone Winter Classic in Pittsburgh between the Penguins and Capitals  (Jan. 1, 2011), the All-Star Game hosted by the Carolina Hurricanes (Jan. 30) and the outdoor Heritage Classic in Calgary on Feb. 20.

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