An early January campaign from Budweiser Canada in partnership with the Hockey Diversity Alliance (HAD) and called #TapeOutHate features NHL players of colour speaking candidly about their experience of racism in hockey as it aims to raise awareness and of funds for a drive to make hockey more diverse.
Conceived by creative agency Anomaly and run in a tie-up with the Hockey Diversity Alliance (a group which aims to make the overwhelmingly white sport more inclusive and diverse), the creative was amplified across the beer brand and organisation’s social and digital platforms.
The initiative was spearheaded by a hero spot which came in a 60-second censored television version for ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ and an uncensored two-minute and 27-second online version.
In one section of the spot, which included a raw roundtable style discussion in a locker room, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds told his peers he wasn’t sure whether he’d allow his daughter to play hockey if it meant her having to face the same racism as him – in 2011 Simmonds had a banana thrown at him during an NHL game in Canada.
Other portions of the lead ad feature players scrolling past hateful messages from hockey fans over social media and it features HDA members Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba (who is of Filipino descent), Colorado Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri (who is of Lebanese descent), Florida Panthers forward Anthony Duclair (of Hatian descent) and former Nigerian) professional player Akim Aliu.
— Hockey Diversity Alliance (@TheOfficialHDA) January 8, 2022
It was backed by supporting social content and cause linked merchandise.
As well as the creative content, the initiative also seeks to drive sales of the project’s physical stick tape and $1 from each roll of #TapeOutHate goes to supporting the HAD and its mission.
Rolls of hockey tape branded with the taglines #TapeOutHate and “Racism has no place in hockey” were used by several NHL players on the ice on 8 January and were sold by Budweiser Canada.
One dollar from every roll of #TapeOutHate goes towards supporting the Hockey Diversity Alliance and its mission. Hockey is for everyone. Please help out if you can. @TheOfficialHDA pic.twitter.com/BZoG1Tt6UZ
— Sid Seixeiro (@Sid_Seixeiro) January 11, 2022
A campaign press release quotes Aliu recalling that he was “ten years old when an opposing team member’s parent called me a racial slur on-ice for the first time” and that in 2019 he came forward with allegations that his former coach Bill Peters used a racial slur toward him while Aliu was in the minor leagues in 2010.
“This month marks 64 years since the first Black professional hockey player – Willie O’Ree – made his NHL debut, and yet, acts of racism towards Black players remain prevalent at all levels of the sport,” Aliu added.
“Campaigns like these, they’re going to be uncomfortable,” admitted Budweiser Canada Senior Marketing Director Mike D’Agostini. “But we need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable because we believe by doing that, that’s how we grow, that’s how we change.”
D’Agostini also explained that Budweiser approached the HAD – which was founded in 2020 (shortly after the killing of George Floyd) by a group of current and former NHL players in the summer of 2020 – a year and a half ago about partnering on the campaign.
“We had this idea but we needed to partner with someone to bring it to life,” recalled D’Agostini. “And there was no better partner than the HDA because they were the players affected by this, going through this and living this day by day.”
Thus gut-wrenching spot has become one of the most popular campaigns in the beer brand’s history in Canada and generated 200 million earned social impressions in its first 48 hours.
The online campaign strand also generated 14,000 online social mentions over the first weekend and Budweiser Canada Senior Marketing Director D’Agostini said the feedback has been “overwhelmingly positive”.
The initial batch of #TapeOuthate sold out within six hours of release.
Interestingly, whilst the NHL has its own equality campaign called ‘Hockey Is For Everyone’, the league declined multiple offers to join the Budweiser Canada/HAD/Anomaly collaboration.
(Likely because the Molson Coors brand Molson Canadian is the official NHL beer in Canada.)
“The NHL applauds our partner Budweiser and the Hockey Diversity Alliance for their efforts to promote diversity and inclusivity in the sport of hockey,” said a league statement which followed the NHL’s decision to promote the campaign on its digital platforms.