Kraft goes deeper for Hockeyville

Brand aims to rally communities with storytelling and a Canadian hockey legend

After nine years of running Kraft Hockeyville, the brand needed to find a way to keep the crowds engaged.

The annual competition provides winning communities with funds for arena upgrades. “For a program that’s been long-standing in marketing, it was really important to stay fresh and to stay relevant,” said Irene Daley, portfolio director of Kraft Canada. “We wanted to deepen that consumer connection and simply put, we wanted more people to care.”

To launch this year’s program, Kraft went to Brooklin, Ont. to surprise a local girls hockey team with the one thing they needed most: a better change room. The girls were told about the surprise by NHL legend Joe Nieuwendyk, who played in the same arena as a kid. A documentary-style video of the dressing room makeover premiered on Hockey Night in Canada on Jan. 1.

This year’s campaign is based on the insight that the hardest part for communities is taking that first step of working together, and that Kraft Hockeyville is the spark that rallies them, said Daley.

“Once they’ve got their community together, that’s when the magic starts to happen,” she said. “In the [launch] video, we tell the story of Hockeyville to inspire communities to share and talk about how they can get involved.”

In partnership with Rogers, Nieuwendyk appeared on the panel on Hockey Central on Jan. 10. Kraft also did a media tour with Nieuwendyk, who talked about Kraft Hockeyville to various media outlets.

A 30-second TV spot shows how arenas come to life with hockey, figure skating and kids just learning how to skate. “For the first time, we had a very emotive message. In the past, [contest spots have] always been very promotional,” said Daley. “We wanted to show that arenas are the hub of communities everywhere in Canada.”

People can nominate their communities at The grand prize winner will get to host an NHL pre-season game, $100,000 for arena upgrades and the coveted title of Kraft Hockeyville. The second place winner will receive $100,000 in arena upgrades, and eight winners will receive $25,000 each.

The program’s partners and sponsors, including the NHL, NHLPA, CWHL and Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL), are also helping to build the “groundswell of conversation out there,” said Daley. Additionally, a POS campaign and ongoing social media engagement will drive nominations.

This year’s campaign is the result of Kraft’s overall mandate “to do things differently in marketing,” said Daley. “What’s really exciting for 2015 is the new kind of Kraft marketing strategy that we’ve been able to embody, which is about deepening consumer connections and also about storytelling to get folks engaged with our brands.”

Kraft Hockeyville worked with a number of agencies on this year’s campaign, including Edelman, Anomaly, Union, Starcom and Mosaic.

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