Hockey Critic

NHL's new marketing campaign under fire from feminist group

The NHL was hoping to hype its return with a snazzy marketing campaign but its television ads have raised the ire of Martha Burk, chairwoman of the National Council of Women's Organizations. The ad, which was unveiled in New York on Wednesday night, opens with the following quote from Sun Tzu's bookThe Art of War; "A clever warrior is one who not only wins but excels at winning with ease". It then shows a hockey player being dressed in his equipment by his female partner and ends with him walking to the ice as a young fan is shown cheering before the ads ends with the tagline: "My NHL." Martha Burk as been quoted as saying that the ad was offensive. She said, "The woman is dressed provocatively and when she asks the player if he's ready, it's a double-entendre in my view. She's in the ad as a groomer, a sex object."

The NHL probably has a hot potato in its hand. Burk was instrumental in pressuring advertisers from shunning the Masters Tournament when Augusta National refused to allow women members in its historic golf club. The Masters aired without television sponsors in 2003 and 2004, although the tournament re-introduced on-air sponsorship this year. The NHL most certainly does not need this type of issue cropping up right now and its initial response has been surprise towards Burk's comments. Its spokesperson denied that the ad was disrespectful, and instead spun it as a positive saying, "The woman is the spiritual and physical trainer for the `Warrior' and is his mentor, preparing him for the competition."

We know that in today's politically correct world you can't really afford to tick off anyone. In this case, it seems that the NHL and its marketing agency Conductor's decision to go with a "Warrior" theme done so with a high profile organization. I personally don't see what the big deal is about, but we'll have to see if the National Council of Women's Organizations can pressure big networks like NBC to act against it.
posted at 08:53:16 on 09/23/05 by HockeyCritic - Category: Business of Hockey

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