Budweiser erects a monument to women’s hockey

The statue outside the Hockey Hall of Fame is a physical representation of the brewer's partnership with the PWHPA and women's hockey.

With the success of the women’s team on the world stage and the induction of Kim St-Pierre to the Hockey Hall of Fame, Canadian eyes are on women’s hockey now more than ever – and Budweiser Canada is hoping to get some of them to stick.

The brewer – in partnership with the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) – has erected a temporary monument across the street from the Hockey Hall of Fame in downtown Toronto that celebrates women’s hockey. The statue features a female hockey player cheering her team from behind a board, and prompts hockey fans to use it as a photo opp to share their support for the game.

“We wanted to launch the ‘This Game is For Us All’ statue at a time that the hockey world is really leaned in,” says Mike D’Agostini, senior director of marketing for Budweiser Canada. “These provocative moments are meant to spark a conversation about women’s hockey.”

This weekend, goaltender St-Pierre will become only the eighth woman in the Hockey Hall of Fame as part of ceremonies for this year’s induction class. A three-time Olympic gold medalist for Team Canada, St-Pierre is also one of only two women to ever suit up with an NHL team, having filled in for the Montreal Canadiens during a practice session in 2008.

In addition to erecting the statue at a time and place that is about to get a lot of attention from the hockey world, it also comes as the PWHPA prepares to begin the next edition of the Secret Dream Gap Tour. Created in 2019 to give professional women’s players a place to play after the collapse of CWHL, the tour has picked up momentum, viewers and more sponsors.

Budweiser Canada has been among those sponsors since day one, having previously promoted the partnership with a spot using Stompin’ Tom Connors’ “The Hockey Song” to show the plight of women’s hockey in Canada and urge Canadians to step up and show support for the game. It has also played an active role as a sponsor of events and tournaments for the game.

While hockey has been a cornerstone of Budweiser’s sports marketing for many years, the brand has been upfront about the fact that it – like other hockey sponsors – has previously been too focused on the men’s game.

Budweiser, like the PWHPA, wants to see a more permanent resolution for women’s hockey. The Dream Gap Tour has been popular, but it is more of a tournament played through a series of events and exhibitions organized by the players’ association, and the goal is to ultimately get support for a viable league.

“That’s the end goal, and the role we’re trying to take – beyond our financial commitment – is to drive more visibility of the game,” says D’Agostini. “The female players are amazing and we believe that getting more people to watch the showcases and the games will result in more people being fans of the sport.”

To further that goal, Budweiser is leveraging its scale and several of its marketing resources. It is releasing a special PWHPA-branded edition of its Red Light, which can now be synced to go off when goals are scored during PWHPA showcases. It is also promoting games through its owned channels, and encouraging its partner bars and restaurants to air women’s hockey games, be they part of the Dream Gap Tour or in international competitions like the IIHF championships or upcoming Winter Olympics.