The NHL has been advertising their TV services on Instagram, but the way they’re doing it has kicked off a storm of backlash on Twitter.
The ads all show two pictures side-by-side: one is of a hockey player in action on the ice, the contrasting picture shows what hockey isn’t: no soap operas, cooking competitions, or singing competitions.
The varied responses include Leafs fans defending (and attacking) Mitch Marner’s contract negotiations, criticism of the implicit sexism in the marketing’s messaging, Capitals fans celebrating their captain’s karaoke skills, and general “WTF-ery” about the entire concept behind the campaign.
Harrison Lee, writer for SB Nation’s Winnipeg Jets’ site, Arctic Ice Hockey, first brought the ad to Twitter’s attention.
this league is incompetent at so many levels, including the marketing pic.twitter.com/ylpWQLkVIH
— Harrison Lee (@HLLivingLoco) September 2, 2019
“When I saw it, I just sort of chuckled and shook my head because I immediately knew there were a good 3-4 issues that were going to surface out of this ad,” Lee said.
One of the issues that’s surfaced is the inherent sexism. All three of the targeted shows — cooking competitions, singing competitions, and soap operas — have predominantly female audiences.
In the responses to Lee’s initial tweet, “it seems like most people have been on-board with the thinking, with plenty of folks expanding on the implicit sexism and issues with audience marketing.”
Many who saw the ad also honed in on the fact that “no soap operas” was side-by-side with Auston Matthews in a Leafs jersey. Mitch Marner being an unsigned RFA has been a hot topic for hockey media and especially Toronto fans.
“Andrew Berkshire pointed out that it’s likely a jab at Mitch Marner’s camp,” Lee observed, “which I question the appropriateness of. I’m not sure it’s wise for the league to make a statement like that, even if they’re a bit partial to an outcome that leads to cheaper deals on RFAs.”
Berkshire retweeted Lee, adding, “Some say this is bad marketing, but I choose to interpret it as a personal attack on Mitch Marner.”
Ovechkin wasn’t spared from the ad, and, as both Lee and GIFer extraordinaire HockeyKot pointed out: putting his image alongside “no singing competitions” was an interesting choice.
Ovi would very much like to be excluded from this narrative pic.twitter.com/kdzW2MBkt5
— HockeyKot (@hockeykot) September 3, 2019
“That they paired Ovi’s image with ‘no singing competitions,’ after that infamous car commercial, seems to lend credence to the Marner subtext,” said Lee.
The “no reruns” ad on its own is particularly head-scratching, given that being able to rewatch games is one of NHL TV’s most highly-touted features.
Maybe it’s the best image to pair with Sidney Crosby, as he is somehow both better and worse than advertised.
Lastly, there’s soap-opera-free Tyler “guard outside my hotel room, missed an alarm clock, look at my abs and this rubber duck” Seguin, turning away from a chef offering him a salad.
Salads are pretty awful, but “no cooking competitions?”
The Capitals literally did a cooking show with Tom Wilson and Michael Latta taking on John Carlson and Justin Peters in a crab cake making competition for charity.
It was awesome.
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