Hockeyville gets more social

Kraft Hockeyville upped its participation rates by 265% this year (its third), thanks to new content-sharing tools, the ability to create online communities, an easier entry process (submitting an essay with photos instead of a video) and increased prizing.The promotion, a partnership between Toronto-based Kraft Canada and the CBC, invites communities across Canada to compete for the Kraft Hockeyville title throughout the NHL season, meaning they're the most spirited hockey-loving folks in the country (no easy feat in hockey country). This year, 1,138 communities competed, and over seven million Canadians voted. The winner? Village sur Glace de Roberval, Quebec, which received $100,000 to upgrade its home arena, a pre-season NHL game and a CBC Hockey Night in Canada special filmed there. 'We wanted to make it easy for consumers to rally their communities,' says Jim Kozak, senior manager, consumer promotions at Kraft, adding that they were happy about the online buzz the promo generated this year, including 60 unsolicited Facebook groups. 'It was a grassroots initiative.' Content-sharing tools include customizable newspaper, banner and email ads, which community 'recruiters' can use to beef up their teams. Newfoundland premier Danny Williams even held a press conference to motivate his citizens to participate, and many NHLers tried to rev up their hometowns. We asked Jen Evans, president of Toronto-based Sequentia Communications, and Matthew Milan, director of insight and planning at Critical Mass's Toronto office, to weigh in on whether or not Hockeyville scored.

Kraft Hockeyville upped its participation rates by 265% this year (its third), thanks to new content-sharing tools, the ability to create online communities, an easier entry process (submitting an essay with photos instead of a video) and increased prizing.

The promotion, a partnership between Toronto-based Kraft Canada and the CBC, invites communities across Canada to compete for the Kraft Hockeyville title throughout the NHL season, meaning they’re the most spirited hockey-loving folks in the country (no easy feat in hockey country). This year, 1,138 communities competed, and over seven million Canadians voted. The winner? Village sur Glace de Roberval, Quebec, which received $100,000 to upgrade its home arena, a pre-season NHL game and a CBC Hockey Night in Canada special filmed there.

‘We wanted to make it easy for consumers to rally their communities,’ says Jim Kozak, senior manager, consumer promotions at Kraft, adding that they were happy about the online buzz the promo generated this year, including 60 unsolicited Facebook groups. ‘It was a grassroots initiative.’

Content-sharing tools include customizable newspaper, banner and email ads, which community ‘recruiters’ can use to beef up their teams.

Newfoundland premier Danny Williams even held a press conference to motivate his citizens to participate, and many NHLers tried to rev up their hometowns.

We asked Jen Evans, president of Toronto-based Sequentia Communications, and Matthew Milan, director of insight and planning at Critical Mass’s Toronto office, to weigh in on whether or not Hockeyville scored.

Concept

Milan: I love the Hockeyville concept. It’s a good fit for the brands, which have a lot of Canadian content in them already. Kraft may be an American company, but Kraft Dinner is the quintessential Canadian food after poutine and beaver tails. If anything, the Canadian angle is underplayed.

Evans: Tying hockey together with anything is great for generating interest from Canadians, and the overall concept of having communities compete for the hockey capital of Canada is highly engaging and a premise for great interaction.

SITE EXECUTION

Milan: The site has great content, but finding it isn’t easy. The navigation works against the visitor in some cases, and most links don’t give a clear indication about what could be found by following them. The links in the map are hidden and make it harder to find the best content, the ‘stories.’ A real missed opportunity to use web and spatial navigation together to frame narrative content in a compelling manner.

Evans: It’s good, but could have been more interactive. There are great social components and a strong sense of the size of the community, but untapped potential to engage around the brand.

CONTENT-SHARING TOOLS

Milan: The tools are comprehensive but somewhat hidden. The community content tool deserves more prominence. I like the fact that the social tools are real world-ready. It would have been nice to see more experimentation with helping people tap into their digital social graphs in addition to their real-world connections.

Evans: The opportunity to extend the campaign to include something related to food has been missed. How is Kraft reaping the rewards of all that traffic? It would have been interesting to have brand-complementary sections such as game night menus, and I’m surprised that there weren’t more Kraft components in the prizing (e.g., a game night dinner). The tools look good but a stronger social element (widgets vs. templates, for example) could have increased the viral effect.

RESULTS

Milan: The results are interesting, but more so around the ‘emergent indicators’ than the hard results. If you look at a campaign like this as an exercise in building influencer networks around existing communities, it’s the edge case behaviours that bear further investigation. The incidental results [NHL player participation, Danny Williams' s press conference] frame out the human behaviours that the real optimization insights should come from. Since we’re all still figuring out social media, insights from these campaigns are valuable both for campaign optimization and for identifying future brand opportunities.

Evans: The level of engagement is strong and the participation results are excellent, but the opportunity to build some brand relevance on the success of the original premise hasn’t been capitalized on. More attention to how the community can continue to be engaged and brand/product tie-ins would strengthen the program.

The creds

Kraft Canada

Jim Kozak, senior manager, consumer promotions

CBC SPORTS

Melina Corvaglia, senior manger, brand activation

Interactive Agency – Indusblue

Dayton Pereira , CD/AD; Mike Yukota, producer; Brook Smith, developer; Amy Lee, graphic design; Sean Morgan, graphic design