‘Battles From The Bench’ – SAP & NHL 

SAP used virtual reality to interact with fans during the January 2019 NHL All Star Game in an immersive gaming activation which used emerging technology to actively engage fans’ senses and showcase SAP’s new hockey stats technology.


Territory: USA


Agency: Momentum Worldwide







SAP has been an NHL partner since 2015 when the league first announced an official North American partnership with the enterprise application software and database company as the official cloud software provider of the NHL.


This also saw the start of a collaboration to transform the NHL’s statistics platforms for the benefit of fans, broadcasters and coaches. SAP powers (and presents) the league’s official statistics page and it has helped develop a real-time tracking system to provide coaches with real-time, customised data and player statistics called ‘The SAP NHL Coaching Insights App’ (for iPad).




The objective behind the 2019 All-Star campaign was the get NHL fans excited about the new app by giving them an impactful, first-hand experience of the new technology inside the brand’s own title sponsored arena the SAP Center in Palo Alto.





‘SAP Battles from the Bench’, created by an in-house team working with Momentum Worldwide and the NHL, focused on the 2019 NHL All-Star Game held at SAP Center in San Jose – the home of the San Jose Sharks – on January 26.


At the All-Star Fan Fair SAP gave fans a chance to become an NHL coach and to use the SAP-NHL Coaching Insights app in a real-time game scenario. The game used virtual reality to put fans on the ice in an overtime situation and challenged them to use the app to make the coaching calls which would decide the outcome of the game.


Fan players became the coach of the home team Sharks in overtime against the Rangers and as they took stats-led tactical decisions the resulting game played out in front of them with hi-definition and slow motion cameras put the fan coaches at the heart of the action they were coaching.



“By taking advantage of a never-before-used VR camera, we were able to incorporate high definition slow motion and unique camera angles into the experience”, said Sarah Ax, VP Business Leadership Director at Momentum Worldwide.


“For the first time, fans could literally see the game the way the players do during a game. These techniques, combined with ‘choose-your-own adventure’ storytelling mechanics, made every user feel like they were part of the action and set a new bar for immersion in a sports VR experience.


This was also the first branded game featured real NHL team marks, real players and real data.


Shooting this active VR experience on ice involved complicated game scripting, attention to detail and choreographing multiple skaters moving at high speed around the camera and the movements of each player needed to match from cut to cut and from take to take to convincingly immerse the viewer in the action.


The game was specifically designed to be a portable experience that would be able to travel to future NHL and SAP events throughout the year.





According to the NHL and SAP, the experience was the most visited partner activation at the 2019 NHL All Star Fan Fair with more than 3,500 individual engagements over the three days generating 31,000 impressions.


This campaign won ‘Best Use of Immersive Media’ at the Hashtag Sports for its effective use of emerging technology.



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