Kraft Suspends Hockeyville Reinvests In HockeyGoesOn

In late November 2012 Kraft became the first major sponsor of the 2012-13 NHL season to go public and cancel its NHL ‘Hockeyville’ activation and divert some of the marketing dollars to a grassroots campaign called ‘Hockey Goes On’.


It’s popular and award winning Hockeyville programme, which has been running since 2006 and is both Kraft Canada’s biggest marketing programme and the largest activation staged by any single NHL corporate sponsor, revolved around a community focused competition to stage an annual NHL exhibition game in a small Canadian town.


‘Hockeyville is important to us from a consumer and community standpoint, and it’s also important for our employees, because it keeps them engaged in communities throughout the country,’ said Jack Hewitt, Kraft Canada’s vice president of marketing. ‘[But] the logistics are such that we ran out of time.’


Kraft ‘Hockey Goes On’ will see a whopping $1m investment programme backing local minor hockey volunteer programmes across Canada. The initiative was built on the back of an online survey, commissioned by Kraft, which found that 77% of Canadians felt that local hockey programs wouldn’t exist without dedicated volunteers.


The campaign is being promoted through a multiplatform marketing campaign spearheaded by TV ads and revolving around a bespoke website and the brand’s Facebook page.



The money will be filtered down through Hockey Canada to the 38 affiliated minor hockey associations. There are five volunteers that will be recognised with $100,000 and they will award that to their minor hockey association. There will also be 20 secondary volunteer prizes that will also go to minor hockey associations. Furthermore, $100,000 will also be donated to Hockey Canada through the ‘Learn to Skate’ program.



The minor associations will be able to use this money to fund ice time, buy equipment and enable those kids not able to afford to play the game to take to the ice.


Between 21 January and 8 March, hockey fans and Kraft consumers are invited to log-on to the brand’s Facebook page or go to the website and nominate local hockey volunteers in their community and make their case for those volunteers to win.


The nominations will then be narrowed down by an expert panel and then there will be a Canadian public vote on who wins.




The objective is to encourage consumers and hockey fans to help the brand celebrate and recognise the best of minor hockey. Furthermore, this move dovetails with the previous programme as the foundation for Hockeyville and the Kraft Celebration Tour is based on a consumer grassroots level and community success.


Which is vital as Kraft’s marketing team measures itself against consumer survey generated equity scores that show whether people sees the company as supporting their local communities.


While Kraft was clear when it cancelled the programme that ‘Hockeyville will repopulate in 2014’, as per its deal with the league.


But when this long-time top-six NHL/NHLPA partner cancelled the campaign it certainly brought a sharp focus to how the NHL’s sponsorship business would react to the lockout.


It certainly carried a major message to the league, the owners and the players – get a deal done. Certainly represented a major


At the time Hewitt knew the decision would peak media and marketing interest: ‘The lockout is top of mind right now with everybody. When we actually announced that we’re going to take the monies and reinvest them against communities, we knew that news was going to spark immediately’


While he didn’t go in to any details about Kraft’s long-standing relationship with the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association, he did say the food giant’s contracts include clauses that will require the owners and players to give back some money.


Hewitt also noted that broadcaster CBC, which originally came up with the idea for Hockeyville and pitched it to the company, will also take a hit. After all, Kraft is also major sponsor of CBC’s flagship show Hockey Night in Canada.


Neither Kraft nor CBC have put a dollar figure on losses related to the lockout. But it’ll certainly be interesting to chart the medium and long term affect of the lockout and the switch to ‘Hockey Goes On’ on Kraft’s sponsorship. Particularly when it comes to re-evaluate its NHL deal after 2014.




Hockey Goes On Campaign Website



Hockey Goes On Campaign Facebook Page:



TV Ad 1 YouTube



TV Ad 2 YouTube



Kraft Hockeyville Website



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