Budweiser’s new call to action to support women’s hockey

Who: Budweiser, the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, and Anomaly.

What: A new anthem spot that poignantly reminds people that many world-class professional hockey players in Canada don’t currently have a league to play in.

When & Where: The ad was posted to YouTube Thursday morning, and will get a paid social and PR push over the next few days and weeks, with a focus on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Why: The Canadian Women’s Hockey League folded earlier this year, partly due to a lack of funding and financial support. While there is some hope the NHL will eventually get behind women’s professional hockey— beyond the little funding it currently offers—so far it has remained on the bench.

What about the NWHL? Yes, there is a five-team league operating in the U.S., but in May, the PWHPA, seeking better pay and working conditions, announced it would boycott the NWHL. The PWHPA also wants to create “a single, viable professional women’s ice hockey league in North America.” (The Conversation has a good explainer here.) This is about when Budweiser came in.

How: Hockey has been a cornerstone of Budweiser’s marketing in Canada for years now. In September it became the official beer of the PWHPA, including the Dream Gap Tour, a series of exhibition games featuring PWHPA players. “The fact that the world’s greatest female hockey players do not have a league to call home is a wrong we want to help make right,” said Mike D’Agostini, director of marketing, Budweiser Canada at the time. “We’re proud to be the official beer sponsor of North America’s premier women’s professional hockey players association and hope to rally all of North America to come together to support these well-deserved athletes.”

#ForTheGame: Created by Budweiser’s long-time agency Anomaly to raise awareness, the video opens with a lively rendition of the iconic Stompin’ Tom Connors song “The Hockey Song,” with plenty of big-time hockey and sports personalities singing lines from the classic. But after the first verse, the atmosphere and tone changes dramatically. Women hockey players sombrely recite the lyrics, before players like Jayna Hefford and Tessa Bonhomme and Natalie Spooner explain the current problem, how Budweiser is helping but others have to join in. “This game is for us all,” is the tagline. The video is being pushed with the hashtag #ForTheGame.

What’s next: The video refers to this being step one. D’Agostini told The Message that more is coming, but declined to provide any details. “Right now, the focus is squarely on generating as much awareness  with this video as we can.”

What about TV? D’Agostini said they considered it, but they wanted to run the video as it is, and at full-length (1:45). “We have seen a lot of long-form video that can generate a lot of awareness [on] social channels with the right paid behind it.”

David Brown