What to expect from new NHL ‘Because It’s The Cup’ commercials, debuting during Penguins/Rangers

The NHL decided not to bring back the "History Will Be Made" campaign that trumpeted the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the last two seasons.

"Because It's The Cup" is the new tagline, and the NHL said the first batch of commercials in that 2012 Playoff campaign will begin airing during the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers game on NBC Sports Network on Thursday night.

What can you expect from this new NHL promotional campaign? Unapologetic courtship of casual fans, and something for everyone.

According to Brian Jennings, executive VP of marketing for the NHL, the new campaign has three basic aims:

Celebrating The Stanley Cup. The league's research shows that even the most casual of sports fans identifies with the Cup as the ultimate prize of the NHL postseason. So along with ads that celebrate the chase for it, and those teams that eventually win it, the campaign will also deal directly with the hardware itself and the Cup's quirky history. Hockey Holy Grail fetishists, rejoice.

Team-Specific "Because It's The Cup" Ads. Like the "History Will Be Made" campaign, this new promotion will tailor ads to specific teams. The Boston Bruins one, for example, features a "The Dark Knight"-esque theme that plays while the ad details the franchise's Cup drought and the pressure to defend their title. These ads are catering to the diehards, as others strike a more populist tone. For example …

Socialization of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. For years, the NHL has tried to make the playoffs a time for parties, bar viewing and hanging with friends on your rec room couch. That's all communicated in this facet of the campaign, that seeks to capture casual fans in the excitement of the playoffs by showing them how fun it is to hug people after goals. (OK, that's oversimplifying it.)

The first two ads, according to the NHL, will be:

"Where It's Been"

A gorgeously shot spot that chronicles some of the Stanley Cup's strangest journeys, including the bottom of a swimming pool. Does a really nice job of conveying that quirky vibe in a short running time.

"Two Halftimes"

This is your Stanley Cup Playoffs beer commercial, full of pretty 18-to-32s wearing their neatly pressed Shop NHL gear to bars and parties to watch the Cup Finals. These ads are not for the diehards, but it might just be the kind of thing that convinces the non-believers to check out the Playoffs. Which is, we think, the ultimate goal.

Along with the commercials, there's a ton of other digital and print assets prepared for the "Because It's The Cup" campaign. Check out a sample of the player posters you'll be seeing a Dick's Sporting Goods in the coming months:

We'll have much more on this campaign, from its inception to its execution, on Friday.

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