Budweiser wants hockey fans to ‘lay it on the line’ this season

Budweiser’s new search for a Chief Hockey Officer is just the start of wider year-long campaign under the tagline “Lay it on the line.”

The CHO will be paid $50,000 to watch hockey all season with three friends. The search began on Monday with job postings on LinkedIn and print ads in commuter papers. A video and digital push followed on Tuesday, including a video ad of colourful hockey commentator Paul Bissonnette (BizNasty to most hockey fans) introducing the contest. The work is by Budweiser’s agency Anomaly.

The creative drives to a special site where people can apply for the job, which requires a video of the applicant demonstrating how hockey “brings you and your friends together.”

Friends is a core element in the new branding focus for Budweiser, said David Sheedy, senior brand manager, Budweiser Canada.

“We had a bit of a pivot to really focus on our role in bringing true friends together,” he said.

Arguably, Bud’s biggest hockey win in recent years has been its Red Light program—hockey arena goal lights that go off whenever the owner’s favourite team scores. While the Red Lights will remain part of its hockey toolkit, the brewer wanted to instil a greater purpose into its marketing.

“In a very connected world we are more disconnected than ever and we feel there are moments to bring people together and sports is inherently one of them,” said Sheedy.

Buddies, beer and hockey has long been a tried-and-true trope for beer marketing, but Budweiser has a identified a deeper meaning for this campaign. Research conducted last year confirmed the notion that people aren’t taking enough time to do things that really matter in their lives.

“We feel that in a world that has gotten so much more busy and fast, we aren’t really taking time to take advantage of those moments and we feel that we have a role to play in bringing friends together,” said Sheedy.

“Lay it on the line” is about people making time with friends and family a priority in their lives, and if they do so, Budweiser may reward them.

The chief hockey officer is the “clearest articulation” of the Budweiser response: spending time with friends to enjoy NHL hockey is actually important. By paying someone to do that, there’s no reason for the person not to watch hockey with friends. “You can’t have an excuse if we are going to pay you to do it,” said Sheedy.

Aside from the CHO creative in market now, Sheedy said more of the “Lay it on the Line” platform will be rolling out as the NHL season gets underway, including playful challenges connected to real game action. One example provided was being rewarded if you have the same last name as someone who scores a hat-trick.

David Brown