By Barry Janoff
December 1, 2016: In 1993, McDonald’s aired a now iconic TV spot, "The Showdown," which featured Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Larry Bird, both then playing in the NBA, competing in an über game of H*O*R*S*E, with the reward being a Big Mac and fries. In 2010, LeBron James and Dwight Howard starred in an updated version, with a guest appearance by Bird.
Now, Bauer Hockey, an official equipment partner with the NHL that has more than 180 NHL players on its endorsement roster, has launched "Aim For Greatness", a global multi-media marketing campaign to support the Bauer Nexus 1N line of hockey sticks.
The effort is anchored by a humorous spot, "Call Your Shot," in which Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Auston Matthews challenge each other in a version of on-ice H*O*R*S*E.
The premise is that during a break in the filming of the actual commercial for Bauer, Towes and Matthews get bored and challenge each other to take ever-increasingly hard shots, mostly involving trashing the props and equipment that have been set up on the ice.
That includes shooting pucks to hit a water bottle sitting on the ledge of the rink from across the ice, hitting the crossbar on the goaltender’s net from the blue line, knocking a coffee cup off the top of a box from about 50 feet away, decimating a camera and other equipment and trashing a table filled with food, drink, a chocolate fountain and an ice sculpture from across the ice.
They accomplish the tests with giddy joy. And although no hamburgers and fries are involved, Towes and Matthews do get to eat the food they haven’t put to waste.
The competition not only shows off their skills but the new Bauer Nexus 1N stick
"There are no camera tricks involved so the skill demonstrated by both players is impressive, but the interaction between Jonathan and Auston is what makes the video a must-see for hockey players and fans," Mary Kay Messier, vp-marketing for Bauer Hockey, said in a statement.
"The video provides a unique look into both players' personalities that most fans don't get to see very often. The incredible skill that made each of them top professional players are clearly on display, but when you watch the video, you quickly understand that both Jonathan and Auston simply love playing the game of hockey," said Messier.
In addition to the spot, the Aim For Greatness campaign includes print, Internet, social media and POP.
The Bauer Nexus 1N line of hockey sticks, already used in the NHL, hits retail in this month.
Bauer last month added to its endorsement roster William Nylander and Alexander Nylander, both first-round NHL draft picks and the sons of Michael Nylander, who played in the NHL from 1992-2009, scoring 209 goals and racking up 470 assists for 679 points in 920 games.
Bauer’s roster also includes Alex Ovechkin, Henrik Lundquist, Patrick Kane, Steven Stamos and Hilary Knight of the National Women’s Hockey League Boston Pride.
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