Winnwell Hockey returns with ‘#ScoreLike’

The heritage brand tries to compete in the modern world with an edgy campaign based on locker room talk.

The 110-year-old Winnwell Hockey brand of equipment is looking to position itself as more authentic in the modern hockey market with its new “#ScoreLike” campaign.

The campaign, developed with Naked Creative Consultancy, focuses on two main features of Winnwell’s product line: the Cleansport NXT technology that eliminates odour in hockey equipment and a warranty against breakage on sticks that is twice as long as other manufacturers.

A serious voiceover explains the benefits of these features by tossing in the kind of analogies thrown around in dressing rooms, like “stink like a skunk’s nut sack” or “score like me with your mom last night.” Naked created over 20 videos for the campaign, the first four of which launched during the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship. Wave Media handled media buying, which is targeting males over 25 across Canada, as well as “hockey hotbeds” in the U.S.

Steve Davies, president of Winnwell, bought the rights to the 110-year-old brand in 2004 following its bankruptcy, and has done a small number of tactical campaigns since then.

For its first big brand push in 12 years, rather than try to compete with brands like CCM and Bauer for endorsement deals with NHL stars, Davies says the company is instead looking to spotlight the game itself. Over the years, those big competitors have grown to control more and more of the marketplace, as the NHL increases its fees for brands to appear on-ice during games, and the company’s hope is that spotlighting the features, benefits and value important to recreational players will show the brand is more concerned with playing hockey than superstar players.

“We’re trying to market our products to the mass, and the mass are recreational players,” Davies says. “The tiny percentage that is the elite player is a different market. It doesn’t mean we can’t make elite-level products, or that our features aren’t the kind of thing that appeals to them, but our target is absolutely the rec player.”

Davies adds that, as a heritage brand, the hope is that players over 25 will have maintained some residual good will towards Winnwell as they begin to buy equipment for their kids (and are concerned with hockey equipment odour in their homes). The extended warranty on the stick also increases the brand’s value proposition, making the game more inclusive as the cost of playing continues to rise.

ScorelikeBanner_website_FIN2Players can submit their own “#ScoreLike” lines on Twitter using the campaign hashtag for a chance to win monthly prize giveaways, including free gear, sticks or t-shirts printed with their winning line. A microsite for the campaign compiles the videos released so far, and gives fans inspiration for endings to “#ScoreLike” lines ranging from “a Russian at a vodka distillery,” “Ryan Gosling in the rain,” and “a hoarder at a yard sale,” to more edgy lines like “#ScoreLike a cabana boy at a MILF convention” or “a sex toy salesman at a bachelorette party.” Since the campaign is living online, it has allowed the creative to push the line on the language used and better reflect the racy and sometimes crude way players talk to each other in locker rooms.

Davies says “toned down” versions of the creative more suitable for a mass audience have been developed for retailers and distributors to use in their own channels. He adds that some have called out the brand for the language used and the scantily-clad woman in one of the videos, but says among its male target, those things have proven very popular.

“Being sexist is not who we are as a company, we’re just finding a different way to draw attention to the fact that there’s a chance to buy equipment that keeps you and your home from smelling bad,” he says. “When you’re trying to create a personality and wanting to be authentic, these are the kinds of things and humour that’s used in hockey, today and in the past. It’s a game and it’s supposed to be fun, and that’s what we’re trying to reflect, and do so while leveraging our points of difference.”