MasterCard sings for hockey’s ‘Unsung Heroes’

A new campaign from the title sponsor of this year's Memorial Cup focuses on all the little things that make hockey playing possible, using a digital strategy to drive awareness.

As every hockey family knows, sheer talent is not enough to make a hockey player great. Early morning wake-ups, practice and hard work all factor in. So, in recognition of the ‘unsung heroes’ of the hockey world – which are not what you might expect them to be – MasterCard has launched a cheeky digital campaign in support of its title sponsorship of the 2010 MasterCard Memorial World Cup.

The ‘Unsung Heroes’ campaign, launched this week, is an online-only strategy involving a series of live-action vignettes on and rich-media ads on hockey sites and major portals. With media and creative handled by MacLaren McCann and M2, the campaign celebrates the alarm clocks, cups of coffee, garage doors, dumbbells, slush and shock absorbers that help a hockey player meet the challenges of their careers, Milos Vranesevic, director, sponsorship marketing, MasterCard Worldwide, Canada region, tells MiC.

The mockumentary-style live-action videos feature two items – such as the garage door and the alarm clock – pitted against one another for supremacy, supported by real-life athletes. Each item is featured on a trading card, a creative theme that is extended to the rich-media ads on,, and, as well as the major Canadian portals. The ads drive viewers to the site, where they can vote on which video they like best.

They chose to focus on a hockey-centric audience in order to reach the most passionate fans of the game, Vranesevic says, and since the CHL has a large fan base and reach of its own, the idea to focus primarily on endemic media made sense. Likewise, since this was an audience already familiar with the game, they wanted to tell the players’ stories using an extended format.

‘We wanted to do something more dynamic than we’ve ever done before with the Memorial Cup, and it’s too expensive to broadcast 1.5 minute segments on television,’ Vranesevic explains. ‘But we really felt that we wanted to take the opportunity to create something that was highly entertaining and make it available to people, and that meant an extended format.’

The ‘Unsung Heroes’ campaign will be promoted until the end of the Memorial Cup on May 23. Although it is still to be confirmed, Unsung Heroes may also be expanded to TV with a 30-second spot on Sportsnet, which is airing the tournament.

The campaign was preceded by a contest partnership with Tim Hortons (April 5 to 25) that saw five trips to the 2010 Memorial Cup up for grabs for customers who paid with their MasterCards. The contest was promoted in-store and with radio buys in Western Canada.

Retail and online executions were handled by Armstrong Partnership LP of Toronto.