Sports Interaction talks to Americans about hockey (with predictable results)

Who: Canadian sportsbook Sport Interaction, with Juliet for strategy and creative; Spark Foundry and Sports Interaction for media.

What: “Americans Don’t Know Sh*t About Hockey,” a campaign promoting Sport Interaction as a homegrown sportsbook better suited to hockey betting than its international counterparts.

When & Where: The campaign is in market now, led by a pair of 30-second TV spots running during Sportsnet’s NHL coverage, supported by out-of-home, digital and social.

Why: When Canada legalized single-game betting in 2021, the various international betting platforms unleashed a wave of advertising targeting Canadians.

Until the Alcohol and Gaming Commission’s recent ban on celebrities in sports betting advertising, many of these ads featured high-profile Canadian hockey stars including Connor McDavid and Wayne Gretzky. These companies also benefit from large media budgets and existing partnerships with Canada’s major sports broadcasters.

But Eric Kormos, brand director with Juliet, said that many of these brands make the mistake of assuming that Canadians are as familiar with legal sportsbooks as Americans, meaning that their messaging has inadvertently overlooked casual and novice betters.

Sports Interaction is a small player compared to the international platforms, but this campaign is promoting its superior knowledge of the one sport that Canadians can claim as theirs. (Although Bet 365 did recently launch advertising featuring another beloved Canadian sport: curling.)

How: The two TV spots are like a hockey-themed version of comedian Rick Mercer’s popular “Talking to Americans” segment on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, with a Sports Interaction representative asking real Americans in and around Los Angeles questions about the sport.

Not surprisingly, they provide comical responses to basic questions like how long is a power play (“12 minutes”), what is offside (“when you’re off to the side”) and what is a hat trick (“when the helmet flies off”). In both spots, the announcer informs viewers, “Americans don’t know sh*t about hockey. So why bet on hockey with one of its sportsbooks?”

Juliet also erected a billboard reading “America doesn’t know jack about hockey” on the Peace Bridge connecting Fort Erie, Ont. to Buffalo, NY.

Kormos said he hasn’t heard any responses to the billboard ad, although the TV spots were mentioned during a recent episode of Sean Avery’s podcast Quick Shift —in which the former NHL agitator described one ad as “nice little spot,” and his co-hosts agreed with the spot’s central premise: why would Canadian hockey fans place a bet with a U.S. sportsbook.

And we quote: “We were excited to use humour—and a bit of taunting—to create something that would get people debating the subject, something that feels like it’s part of sports culture and is always in good fun.” — Jordan Gladman, creative director, Juliet

Chris Powell