How Budweiser is helping the Hockey Diversity Alliance tape out racism

The beer brand is letting players tell their own stories of discrimination to support a campaign to change the game.

Budweiser Canada x HDA_ Wayne SimmondsIt may be called “Canada’s game,” but players of colour still face obstacles when it comes to hockey, so Budweiser Canada is assisting the Hockey Diversity Alliance in ridding rinks of racism.

“#TapeOutHate” is a call to action, and includes both powerful testimonials from players as its creative, but also physical sales of hockey tape bearing the anti-racism message, with a portion of the proceeds going to support the HDA.

“This all ladders up to our strategy of making the game for us all,”  says Mike D’Agostini, Labatt’s senior director of marking for Budweiser and Bud Light. He tells strategy that after the formation of HDA, the George Floyd tragedy and Black Lives Matter, it knew it needed to bring the message to life with an important partner.

“It was important for this [creative] to be real and raw,” D’Agostini says. The roundtable format in the dressing room, he says, was unscripted and it was important to hear the authoritative voices of the players. This includes longtime Flyer and current Leafs winger Wayne Simmonds questioning whether he would introduce his daughter into the sport given the obstacles he’d faced, which includes an ugly incident in which a banana peel was thrown at him at a London rink. Other moments include Colorado Avalanche centre Nazem Kadri (pictured, below) reading a DM of an anti-Arab racial slur.

According to its metrics so far – the campaign launched with paid buys over the weekend – engagement has been “well over benchmark,” he says.

Budweiser Canada x HDA_ Nazem Kadri

According to D’Agostini, it was key for the creative to not only point out the problem and properly let players share their stories, but to convey what Budweiser Canada was doing about it. A key component of that is the tape itself, which sold out from Labatt’s own online store in six hours, but is expected to be available at 500 Canadian Tire locations for the foreseeable future.

“A physical product in the real world to spark conversation can’t be overlooked,” D’Agostini adds.

Since 2019, Budweiser says it has committed to continuing to use its platform to drive home the message that hockey is for everyone. Last year, it helped erect a monument to women’s hockey in from of the Hockey Hall of Fame in downtown Toronto.

It’s not a massive ad spend campaign, D’Agostini says, but a strong message from the brand and a strong partnership with HDA and about generational dialogue. Anomaly led the creative, with Veritas on the PR, Vizeum on media and Salt XC providing support on the execution.

Budweiser Canada x HDA_ TapeOutHate