Marking the return of NHL hockey, Budweiser thanks frontline workers with special performance

Budweiser thanked frontline workers during the NHL’s return to action this weekend, with a special performance from Arkells that was part of Sunday’s primetime broadcast of the Toronto Maple Leafs game.

The broadcast also included interviews with frontline workers as part Budweiser’s #OneTeam Tribute (see below). The brewer launched the initiative back in March, redirecting $500,000 of its sports marketing budget to help those working to fight the coronavirus and keep essential services running.

“With the return to play, it was important to us to acknowledge that we would not be here without the hard work and dedication of all the frontline and the essential workers coast to coast,” said Todd Allen, vice-president of marketing for Labatt Breweries of Canada.

The concert was taped at the Budweiser Stage in Toronto, and marked the first time band members had seen each other since most of the country was told to stay home in mid-March.

Aside from running the concert during the broadcast, Budweiser said that One Team content will be pushed out on leading social channels, along with additional broadcast support in English and French Canada. Agency partners on the content and distribution were Veritas for PR, creative agency Anomaly, and media agency Vizeum.

The #OneTeam Tribute for opening weekend will be followed by other activations through the playoffs—the first for which Budweiser is an official NHL sponsor—including a new ad called “Anticipation.”

The ad features scenes of NHLers and hockey fans preparing for the restart of the season. The closing super reads “Get the Buds back together,” though the small legal print at the bottom notes the footage was shot pre-COVID and reminds people that “as bars and restaurants begin to reopen, please follow local guidelines to help maintain a safe and responsible environment.”

“While arenas across the country remain closed, we’re all excited to catch our favourite sports teams from our living rooms, garages, backyards and in some cases even restaurants and pubs as they reopen,” said Allen. While the Budweiser focus was on hockey this past weekend, the NBA also restarted last week and the Major League Baseball restarted a couple of weeks ago. “As always, we encourage our consumers to assemble responsibly and follow local health and safety guidelines.”

Budweiser did manage to produce some sports adjacent content while hockey was on hold, including the YouTube series Battle of the Grill, pitting two athletes against each other in a BBQ showdown.

“Our BOTG content was our way of bringing together a lot of things we’re passionate about as brand, from BBQ, to sports, to bringing friends together,” said Allen. “When the pandemic hit, our teams were creatively able to pivot shooting the content virtually, allowing us to reach players in all different locations.”

David Brown