Budweiser takes PWHPA support national

After sponsoring the association's premier tour, it's put national buying power behind a powerful video spot.

Beer and hockey is a classic Canadian combination, which is why Budweiser continues to be involved in the sport.

The brand has sponsored Sportsnet’s Ice Surfingthe network’s original Twitter series that highlights the best of the NHL. It served as a longtime sponsor of the (recently disbanded) Coach’s Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada. And, in 2013, it began its beloved Red Light program, which in 2017 won the Media Innovation Awards’ Best of Show.

Now, it’s letting the nation know that there’s more to hockey than just the men of the NHL.

Earlier this fall, the AB InBev brand was one of the first to step up as a sponsor of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA). Now, it’s taken its support for the PWHPA national with a TV and social media video buy.

The video is a star-studded rendition of the “Good Ol’ Hockey Game.” It features well-known Canadians such as Gerry Dee, Tim & Sid, Cassie Campbell and many more. The first 40 seconds are jaunty, featuring bar patrons and fans singing.

The spot, which went live on TV last week during Hockey Night in Canada, seems to fit with the spirit of hockey and togetherness. That’s until the second half of the commercial begins. Then it pivots to female hockey players telling their story.

Up to now, female hockey players have not typically made full-time salaries and most have had to treat their hockey careers as extracurricular activities on top of full-time paying jobs. In the same year that Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews signed to the Toronto Maple Leafs for annual average of more than $10 million, the Canadian Women’s Hockey League was paying players annual stipends between $2,000 and $10,000.

Thus formed the PWHPA. Although the organization performed in two special tournaments in the Dream Gap Tour, it’s not a league. Rather, it’s a protest movement that’s driven by more than 130 professional female hockey players from Canada, the U.S. and beyond. Following the shuttering of the CWHL, the players (which include Canadians Marie-Philip Poulin and Natalie Spooner) declared that they would not play in any league, including the U.S.-based, NHL-owned NWHL (where the highest-paid player makes USD$25,000 per year), until a league that they considered financially viable and sustainable was established.

Budweiser and Unifor were the two most prominent national-level sponsors of the Dream Gap Tour (however Unifor’s support extended only to the tour, which took place in September).

With Budweiser’s media buy live during the most popular hockey program in the country (Hockey Night in Canada), the brand’s marketing VP Todd Allen said it’s taking the sponsorship one-step further, creating a “rallying cry to not only bring people together to support the mission of the PWHPA, but also provide a united voice for the players.”

On Twitter, Budweiser is also promoting posts asking users to show their support, as well as a post from the PWPHA that contains the video. Underneath the PWPHA Tweet is a custom Twitter command that allows users to Tweet “#ForThe Game.” That prompts a Tweet (which the user can customize) stating “I stand with @BudweiserCanada to support the @PWHPA and help build a future for women’s hockey. Tweet #ForTheGame below to show your support. Who’s with us?”

Vizeum conducted media for the spot, which was created by Anomaly.