October 28, 2010
Last year in a series of immensely popular commercials, the Boston Bruins introduced The Bear: a hulking, silent vigilante carnivore who has dedicated his life to enforcing the rules of Bruins fandom.
Is he a team mascot? No, said Bruins director of marketing Chris DiPierro, as Boston already has this bear entertaining crowds at games.
No, the Bruins bear is something different. "He's sort of the representative of the fan base, while the mascot is the representative of the club, you know?" said DiPierro. "Everything he does is representative of the guy who sits in Balcony 318 every single night. He's the enforcer of Bruins fan rules."
Bruins fan rules like what you should or should not scream from your seat during a power play ... or watching a hunting show on television, as in this latest ad featuring The Bear:
"I think this spot was a little more open-ended than the other ones, where you could tell right away what the rule being broken was," said DiPerro.
In fact, it's open-ended. There's no "rule," no punchline.
That's by design. You see, The Bear represents the people, and the Bruins are evolving this "hockey rules" campaign into one of the most unique marriages between team marketing and audience participation in recent NHL history.
The Bruins are literally letting fans rewrite the hockey rules.
The Bruins have created a website called BruinsHockeyRules.com, which hosts all the commercials, downloadable desktop wallpaper with The Bear and a contest that's getting the fans involved in the ad campaign.
Bruins fans are leaving suggested taglines for this latest commercial on the site, which are then added to the video clip and achieved as entries. For example, we submitted this tagline on the site:
After fans write their own rules and publish them, their peers (who don't need to register for access) vote up the rules in a ranking, much like you would a story on Digg. It ends up looking something like this:
"This year, it just seemed like the next logical step for a campaign built for the fans, to have the fans truly chime in and become part of the campaign. That's where social media comes in," said DiPierro.
What's at stake? The most top rules will end up being featured on the ad during Bruins home games, in the arena and potentially on NESN. There are also game tickets, a ride on the Zamboni and other prizes in the mix ... including what DiPierro believes is the ultimate honor.
"The coolest prize is that you actually get to meet the bear. And very, very few people have met the bear. He really isn't in the public, so to speak," he said. "We were wondering if this would actually carry the contest; 'Yeah, we'll throw in some tickets and a Zamboni ride to even it out.'"
The Bear, the website and the fan interaction are part of a larger "Bruins Hockey Rules" campaign that's including television and print advertising. Remember that ad during the playoffs that discussed the facial hair of female Philadelphia Flyers fans? Same campaign.
Now, it's really building momentum. The team just shot three more commercials, created by the Mullen agency, featuring The Bear, and this fan-driven campaign on the Web -- with the site created and developed by Fuseideas, an interactive agency in Somerville -- is starting to attract attention.
"We always wanted, from the beginning, to get the fans to write their own rules," said DiPierro.
Just make'em good. The Bear has a bit of a nasty streak: