Pass or Fail: NBC’s Winter Classic commercials for Flyers, Rangers

The evolution of Winter Classic advertising continues for the NHL and NBC. This time, they've gone all split-personality on us, offering up a stoic athlete commercial highlighting the rivalry for the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers (and their respective cities); as well as a spot that accurately portrays the Classic as a beer-soaked social gathering for Caucasians.

First, the "Rivalry" spot:

From the NHL:

The "Rivalry" TV spot features iconic landmarks in Philadelphia (Liberty Bell, Philadelphia Museum of Art and the LOVE Park) and New York City (Times Square and the Empire State Building). Flyers players Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Wayne Simmonds, Max Talbot and James van Riemsdyk and Rangers players Artem Anisimov, Brian Boyle, Marian Gaborik, Ryan McDonagh, Brandon Prust and Derek Stepan are also featured in the spot.  Adding a unique touch to the spot is an original arrangement of the New Year's classic, Auld Lang Syne, performed by Alex Skolnick, lead guitarist of Testament and Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

In a way, this ad is a hybrid of the NHL's previous Winter Classic spots. When the game was held at Fenway Park and Wrigley Field (the best ad they've done, by the way), the emphasis was on the Classic's location and its iconography. Last season, they opted to focus less on venue (Heinz Field) and more on rivalry: With Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin staring each other down in a driving rain storm (in a bit if foreshadowing).

This 2012 Winter Classic spot dabbles in the iconography of the respective cities, while attempting to establish the rivalry between the two teams. It's a slick-looking spot, what with the CGI snow and all. (But please ignore the man in the polo shirt walking through a Times Square blizzard.)

We posted this other commercial on Monday, but wanted to include it here as a companion piece.

From the NHL:

The "Song" TV spot focuses on fans and the social aspect of the NHL Winter Classic by featuring hockey fans performing the Stompin' Tom Connors' classic, "The Hockey Song," while assembled in bars, hosting home viewing parties and tailgating. Hockey Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille and actor Will Arnett are among the fans singing an NHL Winter Classic modified version of the iconic song.

Maybe you dig "The Hockey Song," maybe you don't. But you have to respect (a) the balls to use a song that 99 percent of casual sports fans in the U.S. couldn't identify and (b) using a parody version of that song in the ad. It's the first commercial that's treated the Classic as a social gathering away from the venue. Which, by the fifth edition, the NHL hopes it's become.

Overall, a nice rebound by the NHL, NBC and Young & Rubicam from last year's regrettable CGI crapfest between Sid and Ovie. But what say you?

Pass or Fail: The 2012 Winter Classic commercials.