What happens when unsuspecting NHL fans come face to face with the actual Stanley Cup? Shock, awe and even a few tears.
We got an exclusive preview of a new NBC Sports video launching online later today to promote its coverage of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The three-minute long video created by NBC’s in-house creative unit and Stun Creative in Los Angeles uses hidden cameras to capture the reaction of real-life fans when they stumble upon the most famous trophy in sports.
The faked-out fans had no idea they’d be in the presence of Lord Stanley’s Cup (which dates back to 1892), according to NBC. Instead, they were told they would be part of a standard focus group for an upcoming ad campaign.
While wearing the jerseys and gear of their favorite NHL teams, fans answer the usual questions about why they love hockey. They talk about the speed, the hitting, the skill of the players. The family bonding time over games. And passion generated by the sport.
“The only time I heard my Jewish grandmother cuss was at a hockey game,” recalls one Chicago Blackhawks fan.
But these same fans get especially inspired when they’re asked the meaning of the Stanley Cup. They pause to gather their thoughts. Then they talk reverently about the Cup being living “history,” the “end-all, be-all” and the “ultimate” goal. “The Stanley Cup is the Holy Grail,” says one fan.
On their way out of the building, NBC slyly asks the focus group attendees if they would mind signing off on some paperwork. They walk into an adjoining room and there, on a raised dais, is the Cup itself.
The unscripted reactions from fans are priceless. One man’s jaw drops down to his Buffalo Sabres sweater. Some don’t believe it’s the real McCoy. Others go wild with joy, yelling and posing for selfies.
“You and I are in the room with the Stanley Cup!” cackles one fan to his buddy. “Can we touch it?” asks another fan. “Too bad, we’re doing it anyway.”
Other fans get so overcome with emotion they start crying. “I can’t breathe,” gasps one father to his children.
The best reaction? Try the Philadelphia Flyers fan who marches straight to the paperwork and doesn’t notice the Cup over her shoulder. When she finally turns around, she asks: “The Stanley Cup is here?”
Brad Roth, a partner at Stun Creative, didn’t expect such strong reactions. “We knew NHL fans are passionate about hockey and their teams,” he said, “but we didn’t fully anticipate how emotional and excited they would be in the immediate presence of the Stanley Cup.”
Getting close to the Cup was almost a “spiritual experience” for some fans, Roth partner Mark Feldstein said. “It was powerful to see the reactions unfold in a truly unfettered and spontaneous ways.”
The Stanley Cup mini-film is part of NBC’s sports marketing strategy go beyond the usual 30-second commercial spots, according to Bill Bergofin, the network’s senior vice president of marketing.
“More and more we’re thinking outside of the lines of 30-second and 15-second promos to do longer-form things. We’ve done it with NASCAR and Premier League. Certainly our YouTube and Facebook social platforms have been great mediums for us to speak with our fans,” Bergofin told Sporting News.
During its broadcast of Super Bowl XLIX in February, NBC Sports broke a two-minute video with comedian Nick Offerman of Parks and Recreation to tout its return to NASCAR coverage. That super-sized promo ran right after the final whistle.
The Offerman effort followed NBC’s popular comedic videos with Saturday Night Live alum Jason Sudeikis as “coach Ted Lasso” to its English Premier League coverage. The first four-minute film with Sudeikis as a fish-out-of-water American football coach trying and failing to coach soccer went viral, with over 9 million views and counting on YouTube. Take a look:
Two conference Game 7s for NHL and NBC
With berths in the Stanley Cup finals on the line on Friday and Saturday nights, NBC is banking on strong TV ratings for its 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage. The New York Rangers face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final tonight (8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network). The Chicago Blackhawks battle the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, NBC).
Meanwhile, the NHL is previewing a TV spot called “Name” on its Facebook page that will break during NBC’s broadcast of Game 1 of the finals on June 3. The commercial shows clips of great NHL players whose names are on the Cup, including Wayne Gretzky to Mark Messier. The spot was created by New York shop Baby Bear’s Porridge.
Brian Jennings, the NHL’s chief marketing officer, said, “Every player dreams of winning a championship. In the NHL, the achievement of winning the Stanley Cup is made more special with the engraving of your name alongside some of the greatest to ever play the game. For players and fans alike, a name forever takes on a new meaning in this great game when it is hand-engraved on the Stanley Cup.”