Kruger uses “Rolling it Forward” message to expand on NHL partnership

The CPG giant didn't initially have a paid media campaign for its NHL sponsorship this year, but now it's seized the opportunity.

For some brands that are sponsors of sports leagues and teams, the cancellation or postponement of seasons meant that previously committed campaign dollars had to quickly pivot.

CPG giant Kruger Products, which is already the official Canadian tissue partner of the NHL, hadn’t made any paid media commitments for the spring, nor did it have any concrete plans in place to activate on its sponsorship. But now, it’s used that partnership to enhance a currently unfolding PR campaign (and add a paid media component). It’s recruited seven NHL players to capitalize on its sponsorship while sending a positive message.

If this were a typical season, the Stanley Cup Playoffs would be well underway by now – but today, in the new normal of COVID-19, the brand is activating with the NHL Players Association through its #RollingItForward campaign (conducted in association with Mercedes-Benz) that helps bring its charitable efforts to the attention of millions of hockey fans.

A spokesperson from Strategic Objectives, the PR agency behind the campaign, tells MiC that this wasn’t a case of pivoting a pre-existing NHL campaign, and that there hadn’t previously been any activations or paid media extensions of the partnership prior to the pandemic. “The initial [NHL] partnership wasn’t really big,” he said. “It was just [Kruger] being the official tissue for the NHL. [The brand] hadn’t had any campaigns planned for this year currently, but the opportunity presented itself to work with some players.”

The PR activation has involved the delivery of care packages of tissue products (Kruger’s brands include Scotties, Cashmere, SpongeTowels and more) in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver, and making donations to food banks across Canada.

The new sponsorship component will see players including Leafs defenceman Tyson Barrie (pictured), Senators forward Anthony Duclair and Jets forward Mark Scheifele and others promote the cause and encourage others to donate through social media. Besides encouraging the support of Food Banks Canada, the players will also share their own ways to “Roll it Forward,” such as buying a gift card for local restaurants that are struggling or picking up groceries for a neighbour.

Other personalities recruited include TSN’s James Duthie and Darren Dreger, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, TVA’s Louis Jean and Dave Morissette, RDS’s Marc Denis and Hockey Night in Canada‘s Cassie Campbell-Pascall. According to Mindshare, hockey is the sport that Canadians miss watching most, with 36% saying they will be most excited for the NHL to return.

Beyond the initial PR piece, the brand will work with its media partners to create broadcast spots and a paid social boost. Wavemaker, Kruger’s longtime media AOR, spearheaded the media buying aspect of the campaign. Media will go live this week.

Kruger is also making a $200,000 donation to The Frontline Fund, a network of more than 160 hospital foundations across Canada, in order to deliver resources to frontline healthcare workers.