Kraft Hockeyville USA

Canadian Success on The Global Stage (BRONZE)

Client Credits: Kraft Heinz
Julian Franklin - Marketing Director

Agency Credits: Anomaly
Pete Breton - Executive Creative Director
Dave Douglass - Executive Creative Director
Neil Blewett - Copy Writer
Kevin Filliter - Art Director
Jon Daly - Planner
Bryden McDonald - Group Account Director
Lindsay Anstett - Account Supervisor
Leanne Bernardo - Account Director, Mosaic
Josh Feldman - Senior Account Manager, Mosaic
Colleen Raidt - Account Director, Hello World
Jake Morrisroe - Senior Producer, Hello World
Jared Feigenbaum - Director, Client Solutions, NBC Sports
Rob Sawyer - VP Program Integration, NBC Sports
Leslie Humble - VP Consumer Marketing, Edelman
Lara Worshman - Senior Account Supervisor, Edelman

Total 2052 Words


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):January 1st – March 31st 2015
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: January 1st, 2015
Base Period as a Benchmark: January 1st – March 31st, 2014

a) Overall Assessment

In early 2014, Kraft USA faced a challenge: The American organization lacked a truly national program it could leverage to drive sales for its retail customers and build consumer loyalty and trust. This left Kraft at a strategic disadvantage against its key competitors. In search of a solution, the organization looked north, to the Canadian, award-winning Kraft Hockeyville program. That program was national in scale, and has been successfully helping to drive the Canadian unit’s business results for ten consecutive years. With that track record, the decision was made to expand the program into the US for the first time, also making it the first-ever consumer equity enterprise program for Kraft USA.


This could not, however, be a matter of mere replication.


It was no secret that hockey is not the number one sport in America. In fact, research uncovered a key challenge for the launch of Hockeyville in the US: approximately 70% of U.S. residents surveyed were “not interested in hockey” and therefore less motivated to participate in Kraft Hockeyville vs. other promotions. Therefore, Kraft Hockeyville would not be able to lean as heavily on a cultural love for the game to succeed. With a goal of engaging retail partners in all 50 states, high-value media partnerships with NBC Sports and the NHL®, and almost half a million dollars in prizing, expanding the program was a major gamble for the organization. To win, and to build a successful franchise for the Kraft brand, we had to find an emotional hook that went beyond just talking about hockey for hockey’s sake, one which could engage and captivate the US market.

b) Resulting Business Objectives

Our main objective was to introduce the Kraft Hockeyville concept to a US audience as a new community-building program, and clearly identify it as a Kraft initiative in order to ensure maximum return on investment to the Masterbrand and participating Hero brands.

In addition, there were three key business objectives this program needed to hit throughout the promotional period:

  1. Participation of Top 10 customers (aka. grocery retailers) in the Northeast and Central regions
  2. At participating customers, +5% lift in Quality Merchandising Points (aka. securing prime merchandising placement in store) of participating brands during the promotional period
  3. At participating customers, +2– 4% total Kraft Gross Revenue lift of participating brands in the Northeast and Central during the promotional period

c) Annual Media Budget
Over $5 million

d) Geographic Area
National - USA

a) Analysis and Insight

We knew that for most communities in the United States, sports plays a central role; this is especially true in smaller communities where sport is integral to community life. It’s the thing that brings communities together, gives them pride, and a focus that they rally around. Hockey is not always that sport in all communities – football is king in Texas, whereas basketball wins in parts of the Northeast – but where it is popular, the teams that play and the arena they play in are focal points of community connection.


But for some communities, it’s hockey or nothing. The rink is as much a part of the community as the local mill, or that diner that’s been around as long as anyone can remember.


This led us to the insight that these passionate hockey communities – small towns and big cities alike – are often left on the outside looking in, feeling marginalized, out of the mainstream, isolated, and somewhat invisible. 

b) Communication Strategy

Working from our insight, we realized that we needed to connect hockey towns across America, to make them feel part of something new, something bigger than themselves.


By highlighting the importance of hockey in communities across the US and giving those communities a way to get involved in improving the experience of the game in their towns, we would position Kraft as the company that feeds your family and fuels a community’s desire to make their arena a better place to play.


So, we tapped into the hockey hotbeds of America and asked them to show their true passion for hockey to the rest of the country. The spirit of competition and the passion for the sport is what would connect these small towns and their competitive spirits would be recognized through Kraft Hockeyville. 


We would harness the emotion, the passion, and the stories pouring out of these communities, and use them to catalyze broader interest in, and enthusiasm for the program, beyond just the diehard hockey fans. It would be the culture of hockey that would take centre stage in these stories, allowing Kraft Hockeyville to transcend the sport itself and become about the communities who love it.   

a) Media Used


  • :30 and :15
  • In-game ads (countdown clocks, bugs, and scoreboard flips)
  • Integrated content – NBC Sports
  • 10 mini documentaries
  • Live-in-two



  • Facebook and Twitter


Partnership properties

  • USA Hockey
  • NBC sports


  • Home page takeovers
  • Roadblocks
  • Display ads



  • On-site activations at the Winter Classic



  • Media outreach


In-store POS

  • Display (dump bins, end cap, etc.)

b) Creative Discussion

We had to balance the need to attract diehard hockey fans with the need to broaden our target to achieve the goals of the program.


“For the Love of Hockey” became our rallying cry: a motivating call to action to local diehard hockey fans in towns and cities, coast-to-coast, that asked them to not only engage our program, but to recruit others to the effort as well.



The campaign kicked off at the 2015 Winter Classic with a :30 spot designed to inspire our hockey diehards to act (vs. a typical promo spot showing only what is to be won paired with cheering community vignettes). The spot (cut to the beat of a slow clap) used both amateur and professional footage pieced carefully together to emulate a game of hockey from the first skate being laced to the eventual goal and crowd reaction. The creative struck a balance between being inspirational, relatable, and informative while creating excitement around the program. These pieces of creative were updated throughout the program to speak to two key phases: community nominations and voting.


The spots were supported throughout the campaign with NBC produced, in-game content during the hockey season and interviews by our campaign spokesperson, Jeremy Roenick, a well-known NHL star with a reputation for giving back to his fans.  


[TV – Live-in-two]

A live-in-two broadcast was used to showcase in real time the winning community’s reaction. This was broadcast live on NBC Sports and would mark the end of the program with a demonstration of just what it means to be named the most passionate hockey community in America.



Online display banners and page takeovers were developed to complement above-the-line communication and deliver a hard-working “learn more” message. Online banners were also used throughout the program as a countdown mechanism to drive urgency leading up to and during the nomination and voting phases of the program.  



A world-class public relations campaign garnered significant media attention throughout the campaign period.  



In-store POS continued to inspire a passion for hockey through imagery that was a mix of amateur and professional shots to be both relatable and inspirational. Larger displays (Zamboni dump bin and retail customer builds) were used to create impact pieces throughout the stores to increase floor space, and the NHLPA partnership was leveraged to its full extent by having NHL players show up at key retail locations to connect with both retail customers and consumers. 



Facebook and Twitter were used to amplify community stories and create urgency at different stages of the program. 


[Mini Docs]


Mini documentaries of the top ten finalist communities were the crown jewel of the program.  Conceived by Anomaly and shot by NBC Sports, these documentaries were shot in a Friday Night Lights style which gave them an authentic feel. From a former aircraft hanger in “The Last Frontier”, to the upper reaches of Michigan where the Red Wings once played, to historic hockey clubs in sunny Southern California, these documentaries were the key to inspiring a nation to take part in Kraft Hockeyville USA.  Premiering on NBC at the start of the voting period and continuing to live online, these inspiring stories were used to motivate the American public to vote for the next Kraft Hockeyville USA. 


[Website] was the hub of the program and housed the contest entry, program updates, and all ten mini documentaries.   

c) Media Discussion

Being the first-ever consumer equity enterprise program for Kraft USA, it made perfect sense to launch the program at the 2015 Winter Classic, an annual tradition for hockey fans, with all available media. The priority was to ensure national excitement and awareness from day one of the program by leveraging the power of NBC Sports, the NHL, USA Hockey, and the NHLPA. 


On January 1, 2015, the program launched with our :30 TV spot, a robust digital presence, priority space on all our partner properties, in-game signage and content, a full in-store roll out, a live pre-game announcement with Jeremy Roenick, targeted e-blasts through USA Hockey, a social media rollout, and a brand activation at the game itself.


Post launch, TV, online, social, and ongoing PR supported each phase of the program (See chart). 



The program culminated with 10 documentaries whose main purpose was to elicit national votes for the top ten communities and create an emotional connection to the program with those who were not among the finalists. The winner was announced via a live-in-two with a split screen showing the reaction of the winning community. 


a) Sales/Share Results

Launching a hockey promotion in a market where hockey was not even in the top 3 favourite sports was a risk. However, with risk comes the potential for big rewards.  We never could have anticipated just how big that reward would be. 


OBJECTIVE: Participation of Top 10 customers in the Northeast and Central regions.

ACHIEVED: Participation from Top 20, with the exception of Wal-Mart and Target.


OBJECTIVE: At participating customers, +5% lift in Quality Merchandising Points of participating brands during the promotional period.

ACHIEVED: Approximately 22% lift at participating customers.


OBJECTIVE: At participating customers, +2– 4% total Kraft Gross Revenue lift of participating brands in the Northeast and Central during the promotional period.

ACHIEVED: An average lift of 72% total Kraft GR of participating brands, with a 133% GR lift in the Kraft Coffee category driven by the participating top 20 customers.


These results represented a massive achievement for the launch of Kraft Hockeyville in the U.S. and set the stage for continued success for years to come. 

b) Consumption/ Usage Results


c) Other Pertinent Results

Participating Kraft brands leveraged the program through special packs and promotions adding to the merchandising impact at retail.

d) Return on Investment

Kraft Hockeyville USA enjoyed a return on investment of $1.15 for every $1 that was invested in the program. 

a) General Discussion

Given Kraft Hockeyville USA was the first program of its kind for Kraft in the US, there was no question our advertising efforts contributed directly to the success of the business. Sales lifts, market share, awareness, and overall participation in the program could all be attributed to the campaign advertising.


While in market, the program garnered over 18,000 heartfelt essays with inspiring stories about community spirit, a passion for the game of hockey, and human stories about overcoming adversity. There were nominations from all 50 states with an outpouring of support for these communities resulting in over 20 million votes. This demonstrated our strategy of using stories from our hockey diehards to pull in the rest of the nation worked.   


NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced the winning community live on NBC, culminating in over 1.2 billion total impressions for the program, which marked an all-time record for a Kraft program anywhere.


The biggest win, however, was the $425K invested into hockey infrastructure in the US. Kraft was able to make a notable difference in some of the top communities while bringing the culture of hockey to the forefront.

b) Excluding Other Factors
Spending Levels:

Spending levels were consistent with this scale of program.


Sales in store were driven by additional floor space provided to the program and high-impact POS.

Distribution Changes:


Unusual Promotional Activity:


Other Potential Causes: