Thursday, December 22, 2011
Pure Hockey TV Commercials, Part II

By Jeff Copetas, VP of Marketing & E-Commerce

OK, so when we last left you, we expanded our marketing budget, got some ideas down on paper for some TV spots and went ahead and secured David Clarkson of the New Jersey Devils and Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins to appear in our spots. Let's explore what happened next......

In May & June we began sharpening our ideas for the content of the spots. This involved securing a company to handle the production and creative for the spots. I didn't have to look far - I have known some of the guys at Neoscape for many years and I had a good sense that they understood and could replicate the visions we had. Based in Boston, Neoscape is a creative agency and houses artists, filmmakers, designers and consultants - and I play hockey with a few of them, so I know there's a bunch of hockey nuts there. We did speak to a couple of other agencies as well, but it was clear pretty early who should be handing the production of the spots.

So we met in person with Neoscape and started exchanging ideas for the Clarkson spot, which we assumed would be done first, simply because Marchand was in the midst of a deep playoff run and we could easily communicate with David Clarkson at the time, whose Devils hadn't qualified for the playoffs. We set the production date for roughly September 12-13 and got down to finalizing the script. I originally submitted two scripts to the guys at Neoscape - the prescription drug commercial (mentioned in our previous post) and also another one involving a Pure Hockey job fair, which ended up being the basis for what we ended up doing.

The ideas presented to Neoscape were simple - I wanted a gag with hockey gloves and typing. Originally I submitted a script where Clarkson was typing at a computer with hockey gloves on. I also wanted him jumping over something, much like a player goes over the boards in a hockey game. I also wanted something with helmets, so I originally submitted a script which had Clarkson fitting a customer with a helmet, but putting it on backwards.

As you can see in the final version, the gloves and going "over the boards" made it into the final shots. The helmet piece wasn't going to work with the Clarkson spot, but ended up being a cornerstone for the Marchand spot, which we'll get to later.

Neoscape took my initial ideas and really turned it into a cohesive story. They came up with the gag of Clarkson cutting boxes with a skate, which I thought was really funny (and took a LONG time to set up) and they took the glove idea and used it at a register instead of a computer. Working with them was just so easy and effortless. They brought a 7 person crew down to the Fairfield, NJ for the Clarkson spot, which was shot during training camp on September 12th - a quiet Tuesday in the store, which worked out well for us. The entire thing ended up taking an entire day - we started setting up at 8:30am and left at 6:30pm.

Clarkson himself couldn't have been a nicer guy. He was totally up for doing a bunch of goofy stuff and pulled off the acting thing really well. Off camera, we had a lot of fun talking with him about the NHL, gear, sticks and just about everything else. He brought down his Devils game jersey for us to look at and also gave the store an autographed Easton RS stick, which now hangs above the register there. David is involved in his own charity  (Clarky's Kids) and made it clear to us that he really was impressed with the store and wanted to do more with us down the line. He was very generous with his time as well. Very cool. Amusing note - one of the first things he said was "I don't think I've been in a hockey store since I was 15."

That's all for part two. Tune in next time as I get to some detail around how we picked the other actors and we'll briefly interview both of the lead actors as well.

0 Comments Posted at 12:00AM on 12/22/2011

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Pure Hockey TV Commercials, Part I

By Jeff Copetas, VP of Marketing & E-Commerce

I can tell you without hesitation that when my boss, our CEO, walked into my office one day last March and expanded our marketing budget for 2011, I didn't push back or ask for more. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, man! With the assignment of spending X additional dollars floating in my mind, I dreamed about all the possibilities and grand ideas that I could muster. Obviously I thought about all the possibilities with social media, our website, our stores, etc. And then, of course, I thought about TV.

I've seen a few hockey retailer's TV ads. They are well done. They convey the basic message and core value of their businesses. They made sure that production was clearly professional. But they are not my style and more importantly, they are not OUR style.

It would make sense to interject here with a little bit about my own personality. I am an absolute sucker for a cheap laugh and I will take 'em any way I can get them. My favorite movies are "Airplane!" and "Dumb and Dumber." See what I'm getting at? I mean, look at this monkey on my desk!

Give me something patently absurd or juvenile and I will be your friend for life. With that said, I set out to think of ways we could make people laugh. Here at the office we've always had a list of running video gags that we'd like to use for viral/YouTube videos, so those were playing in my mind, too, as I thought about the type of TV commercial spots I'd like to run. So I knew I didn't want some boring spot that just shows our stores or dull videos of our skate walls. I don't think those kind of ads were suited for this particular brand campaign. Advertising is all about creating something memorable and to get people talking about your brand. If we put a spot out there that tells you we have hundreds of different gloves and sticks, you wouldn't remember it a week later. You need something memorable.

So I ran through a couple of completely odd and absurd scenarios in my head, One idea was a total rip-off of those horribly annoying prescription drug commercials, which I think was pretty darn funny. That one got to the script phase, but we ended up scrapping it for the ones you see on TV now.

In tandem with this (during March 2011) I had to start thinking about who we wanted in the ads. We weren't going to shoot for the moon - the elite players command very high dollars. So we wanted to secure players who we felt best exemplified our personality - the hard-working, established NHL player who can score and still be nails. I collaborated with our store manager down in Fairfield, New Jersey and we came up with David Clarkson of the Devils - a fan favorite down there and a guy who can play.

Up here in Boston, we originally went for Milan Lucic, but he declined, saying he wanted to take the summer and really focus on hockey, working out and getting ready for the following season. Respectable. Our focus turned next to Brad Marchand, who wasn't yet completely established, but was clearly an up-and-comer who could play the game with tenacity.

Lucky for us, both Clarkson and Marchand are represented by the same agency (Newport Sports) in Canada, so it wasn't very difficult to secure both players and we were able to work through a single source to set up everything with both players.

So by March we were all set with David Clarkson and Brad Marchand. Tune in next time as we walk you through setting up the shoots, the complications of a Stanley Cup run and then actually meeting these guys and doing the TV shoot.

0 Comments Posted at 12:00AM on 12/21/2011

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Pure Hockey Interview: Joe Haggerty

In between sneak peeks of hockey gear and product reviews, we also try to slip in the occasional interview with NHL players, equipment managers or hockey writers. Today we're visiting with Joe Haggerty, who is arguably the go-to writer when it comes to reading about the Boston Bruins. Joe's writing can be found over at Comcast SportsNet New England's website and he's pretty prolific. In addition to being on the Bruins beat, Joe also hosts The Great American Hockey Show, a weekly 15 minute hockey show dedicated to the week in Bruins news and fun off-the-ice stuff as well with the team. Joe also has a good taste in music (trust us) and is an all-around fun guy. Here we go...

1. Tons of people think you probably have the coolest job on the planet (or maybe the state). Set them all straight – no job is perfect, so what sucks about yours?

Ha...nothing like taking a Subban-esque dive right into the negativity dumpster. Full disclosure: there is not much that sucks about my job. (You hate me now, don't you?) I love what I do, the people I deal with on a daily basis are great and I get to see my efforts on our website and our TV station whenever I need proof of my work.

So what's no so awesome? The 80-90 hour work weeks and the constant travel can make you feel like you're on the clock from the moment you open your eyes in the morning 'till the moment you go to bed. My wife isn't always psyched when I'm gone on a road trip for a week or two. We just rescued a lab puppy from a shelter and I don't get to spend as much time with him -- or get to see my friends for that matter -- because work is pretty all-encompassing. But that's what I gladly signed up for, and is more an admission than a complaint.

Being a sports journalist also knocks the fan out of you to a degree. You never root for a team or cheer anymore. You find yourself watching the games analytically and if anything rooting for individual people you like or for good storylines. That's kinda sad, I guess, but totally inevitable if you choose this profession.

One other thing that kinda sucks: the haters. The higher visability you are, the more people seem to want to rip on you for some of the most bizarre reasons. I tend to ignore most of it, but it makes you weep for the angry direction our society seems headed in when you browse comment sections or message boards. They can be pretty vicious.

2) OK, to prove we’re not negative nincompoops, tell us what your favorite part of the job is?

Duh. I watch and write about hockey games for a living, get to deal with the most down-to-earth, amiable pro athletes in the NHL, got to together the Great American Hockey Show with Mike Giardi after we'd always talked about doing a hockey show together and get paid to rip on Felger. It's a lot of work when you break it all down, but it doesn't feel that much like work most days. I think that's why I can hold my own on TV...because I'm having as much fun as the people that are watching us. Also, I get to play a game where I guess what color Jess Moran's hair will be when we do TV hits together. That stuff never gets old.

3. As a writer, sometimes you have to be negative towards certain players. Does that make for, uh, awkward situations sometimes? Be specific if you want!

Sure it gets awkward, but that's just part of the gig. Players aren't supposed to love everything we write. Mark Recchi stopped talking to me during last year's playoffs over a misunderstanding with something I wrote. He thought I was advocating the Bruins bench him vs. Tampa after I called for Claude Julien to take him off the power play. Due to the craziness of the Cup Finals I never got a chance to explain my side to him until after the Cup parade. We'd had a good relationship prior to that and have a good one now, but that's the kind of rocky patch journalists and athletes routinely go through.

What I've found to be the key: players will respect you as long as you show up in the dressing room after writing a scathing piece. You're there in case they want to give you a piece of their mind. Players respect writers that are accountable for what they write.

4. The only band you list as liking on your Facebook profile is Hall & Oates. We know you’re more well-rounded than that. Right? Right? Please? Mano a mano?

I'm not big into the "like" feature on Facebook when it comes to music, movies, books or TV shows. LOL. So Hall and Oates is more random chance than ardent fandom. I do love 80's music -- both pop and new wave stuff like Echo and the Bunnymen -- but I'm all over the board. Martin Sexton, Morcheeba, Black Keys, Alice in Chains, Ryan Adams, Prince and Portishead to name just a few. I love music, movies, TV and all things pop culture...mano a mano.

5) What’s the last thing you really laughed hard at?

Honestly it was earlier this week when Felger and I taped Sticks and Stones earlier this week. We decided to face each other in a battle of Bruins trivia that ended with Felger as the fraud. What made me laugh was Felger attempting to answer John Bucyk for a question, and all he could come up with was Johnny Boychuk. It was more due to sleep deprivation from his newborn baby having just come from the hospital than fraudulence, but I still laughed. Felger and I battle, but we also laugh at each other quite a bit.

6) What’s your ideal hockey game? A 1-0 nail biter (game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last year) or an all out, 7-5 goal blitz?

I tend to enjoy higher scoring hockey games with plenty of fights and nastiness (think some of those Stars and Habs games over the last couple of years) in terms of sheer entertainment value. But I thought Game 7 of Bruins/Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals might have been the most well-played hockey game I've ever seen live. So there's that too. LOL

7) Which side of the fence do you sit on regarding fighting in the NHL? And in general, do you think the players would support a fighting ban?

I'm against any attempted ban of fighting and would err on the other side of lifting the instigator penalty if I had my druthers. It's one of the things that really sets hockey apart from the other sports and it would be slap in the face to most diehard fans it fighting was banned. I think the vast majority of players would vote against a ban on fighting and feel that enforcers still "keep things honest" to some degree. That doesn't even mention that the fighters are usually among the best character people you'll find in an NHL dressing room. That's got to count for something.

Big thanks to Joe for taking the time! We should do more interviews with hockey writers - definitely less editing involved! Perfect grammar, Joe!

0 Comments Posted at 12:00AM on 12/13/2011

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