Sherwood wants to add the flare of other sports to hockey

The Canadian Tire brand was stale among young players, so is trying to embody the evolution of the game.
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Canadian Tire’s Sherwood brand has a legacy among older hockey players who remember seeing it on posters and hockey cards, if they didn’t already use one of its sticks themselves.

But now it is trying to build inroads with young players who are less familiar with the brand by showing them they don’t have to be beholden to traditional aspects of hockey.

A brand relaunch is accompanied by a new spot that shows the evolution of the Sherwood hockey stick from the days of its 5030 wooden sticks in the 1970s, to the Code V series with a foam-injected blade used today. By doing so, it aims to tap into the culture and energy that surrounds hockey – establishing that even though it is a brand steeped in history, its sticks have evolved just like the game has, with speed and skill.

The creative and media assets were developed by Canadian Tire’s in-house strategic marketing and creative content teams. The main Code V series video was created by Rockhouse Motion.

Brendon Arnold is associate VP of brand at INA Sports, a division with Canadian Tire’s FGL Sports that handles the company’s private label and licensed sports brands, including Sherwood, Ripzone and Woods. He say when the company started to take a deep dive into Sherwood’s brand, there were two different camps of consumers. The older demographic, he says, knew Sherwood’s wooden sticks from when NHLers like Guy Lafleur and Ray Borque used them. Conversely, 12- to 25-year-olds  “didn’t even know what Sherwood was,” Arnold says, and the brand has fallen off as decades have passed.

As part of the rebrand process, Arnold says, Sherwood stripped the brand “down to the studs” to determine what they wanted to keep and what to rebuild. The brand’s historical elements – built on authenticity and performance – would be the building blocks for the rebrand, but adapted for a modern players.

That’s because insights showed an opportunity in the fact that hockey is seen as “one of the most traditional sports at the highest level.” To fans, hockey has often lacked the flare of sports like basketball.

“We found that the younger hockey player that’s growing up today doesn’t necessarily want to follow those traditional elements of what hockey had stood for,” Arnold says. “They want it to be more expressive and unique. I think they were fighting against a very traditional sport that didn’t necessarily allow them to express themselves. And there wasn’t necessarily a brand to give them that outlet to do so.”

Ottawa Senators forward Connor Brown will be promoting the Code V sticks as the face of the launch. Arnold says professional endorsements still give sports equipment brands credibility and authenticity, but catching on with youth can be just as vital to driving it forward.

“They’re the ones hanging out with their friends at the rink, talking about every aspect of hockey, whether it be the video games, whether it be music, whether it be style or fashion,” he says. “But I feel like a lot of the hockey world today doesn’t really tap into that culture, and they concentrate on the traditional norms of what hockey has always been rather than showing hockey [as an] evolution, like a lot of other sports have gone into.”

The campaign will run through September, with sustained activity on Sherwood’s social channels and participation from retail partners, along with paid support on social media.