Hairy Hockey As NHL’s Play Off ‘Beard-A-Thon’ Begins


The NHL Playoffs are approaching so it’s time for this season’s ‘Beard-A-Thon’ to begin.


The campaign, which leverages the long-standing ice hockey tradition of players not shaving during the playoffs to demonstrate team unity, is entering its fourth year and for the time has a national sponsor.


The background for the tradition dates back to the late 1970s when the New York Islanders team reached the playoffs and agreed not to shave again until they lost. Astonishingly, they didn’t lose again for four years. Since then the trend has spread to all playoff teams and many loyal fans too.


This tradition has been leveraged into an official NHL campaign for the last three seasons by sports marketing agency Cenergy and this year the promotion is being backed by a new sponsor – Just for Men Mustache & Beard (a division of Combe Inc).


The initiative is a cause-related programme focused on raising funds for team charities.


Beard growing participants (players and fans) seek financial pledges of support in $25, $50 and $100 increments. Last year the top beard grower was Celtic rock band Dropkick Murphys lead singer Ken Casey. He raised $17,000, demonstrating how a touch of star power can drive awareness and giving.


On average, over the last three years more than 15,000 fans and players have grown beards and raised a total $1.2 million for team charities.


The charities are local to each franchise and include the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (LA Kings), Garden of Dreams (New York Islanders), and the Mario Lemieux Foundation (Pittsburgh Penguins).


This year’s sponsorship deal means the campaign promotion will be bigger than ever. In addition to the digital work and print executions (including one in the Stanley Cup programme itself), there are nationwide TV spots on the NHL network and during NBC’s Stanley Cup coverage.


The charity will be integrated into Just For Men’s advertising on NBC’s NHL Stanley Cup playoffs coverage, with all of the brand’s advertising tagged with the Beard-A-Thon logo and URL and 10-second, on-air billboards will rotate with the scores during live game coverage.


Campaign emails are also rolling out to sponsor Just For Men’s own 250,000-name database.


The target for the 2012 campaign is to raise $2 million plus.


Customized team-specific promotions and websites (with social media support) are being developed and launched as NHL teams secure their playoff berths and the campaign will kick-in when the playoffs begin on 11 April.


For example, defending Stanley Cup champions the Boston Bruins have already launched their ‘Grow one for the team’ campaign. Fans can create their “Bruins Beard-A-Thon” profile by uploading their photo at www.beardathon.com/bruins.


The site enables participants to update their growth throughout the playoffs and this year even non beard-growing types can participate through growing a virtual beard. The Build-a-Beard app allows users to see what they’d look like with some hair on their face.


See http://www.build-a-beard.com/bab/2010/2/1/slap-a-stache-on-me-theres-an-app-for-that.html


The campaign is being incentivised throughout the playoffs, with those who raise the most money being offered the chance to win playoff tickets and a grand prize is awarded to the top overall fundraiser.


The Bruins, as well as being the NHL champions last year, also raised the most money ($160,000) from their edition of the “Beard-A-Thon” was the NHL’s top fundraiser during the 2011 season.




“In this year alone, with the participation of Just For Men and the support of the NBC Sports Network, we expect to surpass our last three years’ total contributions,” said Cenergy boss John Cimperman.


The signs are that he will be right, after all Canada is a country that clearly embraces facial hair. Not only is the ‘Beard-a-Thon’ going from strength-to-strength, but of all the countries within the global Movember prostate cancer movement it is Canada that raised the most money last year.













Leave a comment


Featured Showcases

Leave a comment