SkipTheDishes wings it with Playoff Pants

Eating pants have had their day; now there’s a new pair of pants in town. Food delivery service SkipTheDishes has introduced a new spot created specifically for the NHL playoffs under its “Gear Up with Skip” platform.

Modelled on hockey pants, Skip’s “Playoff Pants” are real (albeit in limited numbers), and have a flexible waist that’s perfect for accommodating all of that extra pizza, nachos, wings, etc. Their most important feature, though, is a towel-like pad on the thigh, where wearers can wipe off all that excess wing or rib sauce.

The 30-second spot, developed by Skip’s in-house content studio working directly with Toronto production house HeydSaffer, has been running during the first period of Hockey Night in Canada telecasts throughout the playoffs.

It features a man blissfully eating chicken wings while watching the game, prompting his wife to bring him some napkins. She walks into a room where some kind of Tarantino-esque chicken massacre has seemingly taken place, with hot sauce covering the couch, the cushions, the throw blanket and the drapes.

The payoff comes when a cat walks into a frame covered in sauce… except the couple doesn’t own a cat. That particular scene features some blink-and-you’ll-miss-it legal type at the bottom of the screen that reads, in part, “Don’t put hot sauce on cats. Simulated hot sauce portrayed.” It seems like it’s meant to be a joke, but, you know, we as a species are a suggestible lot.

The work exists outside of Skip’s brand work featuring Jon Hamm, instead tying into a multi-year sponsorship deal with the NHL, announced in January, making it the league’s official food delivery app. Skip already had partnerships in place with six of the league’s seven Canadian teams (Uber Eats is the Toronto Maple Leafs’ official delivery partner).

“It wasn’t a big strategic shift at all,” said the company’s vice-president of marketing, Cheryl Radisa of the campaign. “It was just taking advantage of an opportunity, a creative idea and a moment we would really lean into.”

The work was led by Skip’s creative director Phil Sylver, who joined the company’s 25-person in-house studio team from the creative agency Rain in April. Sylver and the Skip team worked directly with HeydSaffer to develop the spot in just over three weeks.

“When you’ve got good clarity around strategy and what you’re trying to achieve, it enables good ideas to come to the table quickly,” said Radisa of the quick turnaround. “As long as they’re strategic and they fit, and everybody has a lot of heart and energy behind it, you can really rally the team to get it done. And that’s what we did.

“It’s important to be strategic and thoughtful, but then agile and innovative and creative in the moment. That’s what makes great brands.”

It’s the latest work in an escalating battle for market share and attention between food delivery apps like Skip, Uber Eats and DoorDash. “It’s no secret that it’s very competitive, but we try to leverage our sponsorships really well,” said Radisa.

Skip recently moved its Canadian creative assignment from Arrivals + Departures to McCann Canada as part of a global consolidation of its creative assignment by its Amsterdam-based parent company Just Eat Takeaway.

Radisa was non-committal when asked if the company plans to stick with former Mad Men star Jon Hamm, who has been a key figure in its advertising for the past three years. “We’re working on it, and we’ll hopefully have something to share very soon,” she said. Skip’s first work from McCann is expected in the fall, she said.

Skip also created 75 pairs of the Playoff Pants that were distributed to influencers and on-air personalities including former NHL player turned Sportsnet analyst Anthony Stewart (who tweeted about the pants to his nearly 35,000 followers) and Coach Jeremy of the instructional site How to Hockey.

The company worked with well-known Canadian fashion designer Izzy Camilleri—who designed the metallic suits worn by late Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie on the band’s farewell tour in 2016—to create the Playoff Pants.

So is Skip now poised to start following brands like KFC and Heinz into the product game? “Having it attached to our sponsorship as a way of bringing it to life is kind of fun, but it’s not our core focus,” said Radisa.

Chris Powell