ESPN is known for its fun and ridiculous sports commercials — Late Nite Filings, anyone? — but the network decided to take a different tack in its first campaign promoting the return of the NHL this season. The ad is entitled All for Hockey and it’s super serious.
“‘All for Hockey’ embraces the intersection of hockey and humanity, telling the story of the game of hockey from the perspective of a wide variety of fans,” the sports leader said in a press release. “ESPN worked with agency Fallon and director Michael Lawrence to capture that sentiment, focusing on creating real intimacy in each scene.”
Take a look for yourself.
Here’s the transcript.
We’re not into hockey for the fame or the hype. We’re into hockey for this kid, and his mom. For the guys in Detroit, cutting out early to catch a Wings game. And this man in Denver, watching the Avs on a TV older than the franchise. We’re into hockey for the fans in Vegas waiting for the desert to freeze over. And the ones in Tampa, hoping Lightning strikes thrice. We’re in it for this upstanding Philadelphian and every bartender in Quincy. We’re into hockey for Matt Dumba, Seth Jones, and anyone who’s ever been told to ‘stick to basketball.’ Hockey’s for the diehard and the faithful. It’s for every rookie in Seattle and it’s for us because… we’re fans too.
The commercial features two calls to the Capitals. The opening scene features a Capitals fan (who has a Tom Wilson jersey over an Alex Ovechkin one) waking up early in the morning for hockey practice. The other is a reference to the racism Devante Smith-Pelly endured in a game against the Chicago Blackhawks in 2018. The ad appeals to both the working and middle classes and tries to show that hockey is for everyone.
“Hockey has the most dedicated and intense fanbase in all of sport, which can make the barrier to fandom seem high,” Fallon’s creative director, Charlie Wolff, said in a statement. “But hockey has the best parts of all sports – rivalry, triumph, heartbreak, combat, betrayal and redemption – and it’s these universal human truths that ‘All For Hockey’ seeks to convey in a way that respects the hockey faithful, while inviting in more casual fans.”
ESPN signed a seven-year rights agreement with the NHL earlier in the year. Games will appear on ABC, ESPN, ESPN+, and Hulu this season.
“They are committed and our games will be on all parts of the ESPN platform,” Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said on Twitter. “Very exciting development.”
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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