Kraft hits close to home

To promote this year's Hockeyville campaign, the food co is tapping into girls hockey with a mini-documentary.

Now in its ninth year, Kraft looked to what keeps leading to huge swells of grassroots support for Hockeyville to promote this year’s edition of the program.

Kraft Hockeyville is an annual contest where Canadians can nominate their local community arena as the one most deserving of an upgrade. The winner, decided by an online vote on the Kraft Hockeyville website, will receive $100,000 in arena renovations to help keep their hockey program strong heading into the future and host an NHL preseason game next season. But aside from the cash prize, consumer insight showed it was the way communities were able to come together in support of what is often the hub of activity in the community that made Hockeyville appealing to Canadians.

“What Kraft Hockeyville does is become something those communities can then rally around, because it’s really critical to keep these arenas going to protect the future of hockey and, by extension, protect the community as a whole,” says Irene Daly, director of portfolio marketing at Kraft Canada. “Oftentimes, they can’t rally themselves, because the costs [of arena renovation] seem like an insurmountable goal, but then when they see Hockeyville and what it can do, people start to form teams and they rally and make something great out of it.”

To promote the upcoming Hockeyville, and based on the insight of rallying a community around a single arena, in December, Kraft and the town council of Whitby, ON, reached out to a local girls hockey team and asked what would make the Luther Vipond Memorial Arena more welcoming to them. The answer was that they wanted a more welcoming dressing room, so Kraft totally remodelled a dedicated girls dressing room with lockers, a new shower and benches and floors that weren’t soaked with sweat. The new dressing room was revealed to the girls by former NHL star Joe Nieuwendyk, who grew up playing in the same arena.

Girls, Daly says, are highest growth segment for hockey in Canada.

The process and reveal was captured in a mini-documentary that aired this past weekend on Hockey Night in Canada and will be pushed on social media by Kraft, its brands and its partners, which include the NHL, NHLPA and regional leagues CWHL and GTHL.

The campaign also features a traditional 30-second TV spot and point-of-sale materials, which launched on Jan. 1 in conjunction with the opening of nominations for the contest. Daly says there will be more spots debuting in March that tell the stories of the communities that make it to the top 10 to drive voting for the winner.

Kraft worked with PR agency Edelman and Rogers Media on the documentary, with Anomaly creating the 30-second spot and Mosaic handling the point-of-sale materials. Starcom handled the media buying.

“Whenever we launch Hockeyville, the communities certainly start to banter and grow their support, so we’re going to be more agile by really tapping into their conversations and bringing their stories to life,” Daly says.

Daly says five years ago, the initial success of Hockeyville – which has included a boost in Kraft revenues during the periods the program has been running – led to a boost in funding from Kraft that has stayed consistent since then. That allows the program to create more support for the grassroots element by offering the big-time feel of a national program.