CCM brings Tacks into the now

Bringing a skate brand back after 10 years meant finding a way to highlight both legacy and innovation.

For former hockey players of a certain age, CCM’s Tacks brand of skates carries a 60-year legacy. Now CCM has brought the brand back after 10 years of being off the shelves, giving the skates a place in the mind of young hockey players by acknowledging that legacy while enforcing the technology the company has built into the new model.

“We had a dual approach,” says Benoit Allaire, president of Exacto Communications, the agency tasked with creating the new CCM Tacks campaign. “We needed to take [the legacy] and push it forward. It was kind of taking the history but still pushing the technology message. Sometimes, the mandate that’s most difficult is when you have two approaches that need to live side by side.”

The 30-second spot Exacto came up with begins with a focus on the origins of the Tacks in the 1950s, when it was one of the earliest examples of the modern model of hockey skate. The ad moves forward, showing the skate on the feet of NHL legends like Bobby Orr and Mario Lemieux as they scored some of hockey’s most iconic goals. The ad then comes to the modern day, highlighting the new model and play of current New York Islanders star John Tavares. The spot was released over the summer, with media buying by Carat.

Allaire says this anchors the brand “in the now” while still acknowledging the legacy of the skates, introducing it to young hockey players who might be more familiar with a legendary hockey player than a piece of equipment. According to research that CCM did, that has more relevance to a 12- to 16-year-old hockey player than one might think, as their digital-first mentality simply gives them more resources to absorb the history of the game.

“It’s a really fascinating market in the sense that these hockey players, when we did [research] interviews, the level of maturity they have in terms of their dedication,” Allaire says. “They consume content at an incredible rate, and that includes scores and improving their own play and the history of the sport. They eat up everything that has to do with hockey. They know their history.”

Marc-Andre Charron, marketing director for Reebok-CCM Hockey, says that the CCM brand has been enforcing the innovation in its equipment in the lead up to past seasons, but the Tacks brand gave them a chance to tie that with the game’s heritage.

“We wanted to continue to focus on our product innovation while injecting an emotional connection with our brand,” he says. “Our research indicated that Tacks resonated a lot with our core consumer even though the sub-brand was at its prime before they were even born.”

Exacto created a dedicated Tacks microsite, working with Montreal-based Akufen. Starting September and leading up to the beginning of the NHL season, CCM and Exacto produced online testimonial videos from current players and a social video campaign dubbed “The Tacks Challenge” that focuses mostly on the technology of the skates and appeals to the research young players do online. CCM set up a race between Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche and three-time Olympic speed skating gold medalist Charles Hamelin which was teased with videos online and through the athletes’ own social media accounts over the last couple of months.

The final Tacks Challenge video, posted last week with the start of the NHL season, currently has over 600,000 views.