Kruger chips in with a second Big Assist

Diversity has been made a focal point for the CSR effort helping overcome barriers to playing minor hockey.

Kruger is putting its Big Assist program out for a second shift after its successful debut brought support to 20 minor hockey associations across the country last year.

The program was created as part of Kruger’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was built to help struggling families cover the costs for kids to participate in minor hockey, a natural extension of the company’s existing partnership with the NHL and a fit with its other sports and grassroots initiatives.

After opening the contest up for applications, the company donated a total of $200,000 in funds split among 20 minor hockey associations across the country earlier this year.

Kruger is shaking things up for the 2022 iteration of the Big Assist program by bringing diversity to the forefront. It is offering $150,000 in primary support – $10,000 for 15 minor hockey associations across the country to help offset the cost of registration fees for local families – as well as what it’s calling a “Second Assist”: an additional $50,000 donation to whichever of the 15 Big Assist recipients best demonstrates how it is working to promote inclusion within its leagues and teams.

“Canada is a diverse and inclusive culture, but we know that representation within the hockey community is not where it needs to be,” says Susan Irving, CMO with Kruger Products. “We want to make sure that the hockey rink is as inclusive as possible, that no kid is left behind, and that hockey associations are helping to build a movement.”

Kruger is promoting the program with a campaign developed by creative agency The Mark that showcases some of the kids who would benefit from a Big Assist, explaining what assists are to them.

The campaign’s primary execution is a 30-second TV spot that will run on TSN, Sportsnet, CityTV and TVA Sports in Quebec, as well as through integrations with programs such as Hockey Night in Canada.

In addition, “there’s a hefty media buy on Facebook and Instagram,” Irving says, that will make use of shorter cutdowns of the hero spot, as well as a push through the NHL’s digital channels to the league’s fanbase. It will also feature email marketing to minor hockey associations and past entrants, as well as a buy with minor sports organization platform TeamSnap.

The spot will be in market until Jan. 22 and is the first phase of this year’s program, designed to drive awareness and submissions to the program through a dedicated microsite. It will be followed by additional creative later in 2022, Irving says.

Wavemaker and GroupM Sports & Entertainment handled the media buy and integration for the campaign, with Ethnicity Matters assisting on ethnic outreach and Spider Marketing Solutions on in-store marketing.

Kruger is the latest brand with connections to professional hockey that has been taking a hard look at its issues with diversity. Scotiabank has leveraged its position as one of the biggest sponsors of the NHL to make a biting look at what some players have faced the focal point of its hockey campaign this season. Ahead of the induction ceremony for this year’s Hockey Hall of Fame class, Budweiser erected a statue to give more attention professional women’s players in support of their efforts to establish a permanent, viable league.