Sonnet explores some hockey breakthroughs

Who: Sonnet Insurance, with Whitney Creative. Digital media buying handled in-house with traditional media buying by Ocean Media.

What: A new wave of advertising that brings together Sonnet’s longstanding partnership with the NHL Players’ Association and the “Breakthroughs” creative platform that was introduced last year.

When & Where: The campaign launched on Sportsnet at the beginning of the month, running across TV and online through the remainder of the NHL season. Sonnet is also running a video on TikTok that features a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the ads.

“There’s so much fragmentation between the various media formats that we have to be on top of all the formats that are available and constantly testing,” said Sonnet’s vice-president of marketing Brian Long about the brand’s first foray into TikTok.

Why: Sonnet has spent the past year positioning itself as a breakthrough brand in the insurance space, and its relationship with the NHLPA is flexible enough that it could be migrated to that platform, said Long. “Anything we’re doing on the brand side becomes something we can carry over and it becomes a natural extension to the NHLPA spots,” he said.

How: The new ads present a hockey-themed version of Sonnet’s “Breakthroughs” ads, which humorously showed how major scientific breakthroughs—human cloning, the first news conference from Mars—pale in comparison to the breakthroughs offered by Sonnet.

The English-language ads feature actor Justin Bott, a well-travelled commercial actor who has been a mainstay of the brand’s advertising in recent months. “He’s quite witty and personable, and comes across very well on screen,” said Long.

The first ad, “Explosive Stick,” stars Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander (and Jonathan Drouin in the French creative) highlighting a high-powered stick created using particle accelerator technology. The technology results in shots powerful enough to go through rink boards and glass, with one errant puck crashing into the snack bar, where it gets lodged in the forehead of former Leafs star Doug Gilmour.

A second spot, “Legs” (currently only available on features Jason Spezza powering an exercise bike with comically oversized legs. Bott’s character informs the Sonnet representative that Spezza’s leg muscles were surgically replaced with those from a champion race horse, making him the country’s first horse-human hybrid (and a bit skittish). In both spots, the Sonnet representative downplays the scientific breakthrough by pointing out the breakthroughs provided by Sonnet.

And we quote: “[The NHLPA partnership] has helped ensure that we keep a fun feel to the Sonnet brand,” said Long. “We’re serious about insurance but we like to have fun along the way, and working with the players has allowed us to do that. Having our personality come out a bit more on air is great for the brand.”

Chris Powell