August 30, 2010
At this point, the EA Sports NHL video game series is so popular they could just flash an image of the latest cover athlete, the release date, the words "You're Welcome" and, boom, there's your ad campaign.
Yet EA Sports has remained aggressive in its online video marketing of its NHL games, including the new Wayne Gretzky-endorsed "Slapshot" for the Nintendo Wii -- in this clip that features spiffy new stick-like controllers and an impossibly handsome family:
But we wanted to dip into the YouTube archive to revisit those innocent days of game yore, when commercials occasionally appeared on television screens, too. Coming up, the hits and misses from some of EA Sports' NHL game commercial history.
Can you believe those graphics were probably cutting edge at the time?
While we haven't seen the rest of the decade's output, it's entirely possible this NHL 99 commercial was the pinnacle of EA Sports' NHL commercials.
The bait-and-switch of "Cyber Lindros," in which the ad begins with a digital filter over actual game footage to make it appear the game's graphics are 1,000 times more impressive than they were; and, of course, the use of The Scorpions, who can elevate any piece of video into something intoxicating.
Seriously, put on The Weather Channel, turn the sound down and play "Winds of Change." You'll see.
"So, what do you want to do for the NHL 03 commercials?"
"Well, we were thinking about having Luc Robitaille of the Detroit Red Wings doing an Elmer Fudd impression."
(Stick-tap to Leahy)
From the innocence of arena rock to the outright creepiness of teen slasher movies for this 'NHL 06' trailer. We don't care how cool this lady is: If you turn around and find Eddie Belfour staring at you from the backyard at night, you drop the cup and haul ass.
The "Hockey's Back" tagline comes from the fact that NHL 06 was the first post-lockout title from EA, and one of the first that really started to use the Web in innovative ways, as this product page reveals.
As with the Gretzky video that led the post, sometimes new technology is the hook for these games rather than new features. Hence, this NHL 07 ad focuses on the "skill stick" on the Xbox controller and the elastic thumbs that you'll need to master it.
The hockey revolution, by the way, appears to be led by young stoners who somehow get cell service in the desert and play video games in between orgies.
In 2009, EA Sports discovered the secret formula for commercial success: Green screen plus stock footage plus hot young fan equals awesome ...
... and then, to reinforce the point, they created the complete opposite: This terrible spot featuring "Jeff" as he runs around the ice in shorts and flip-flops, growing and shriking at arbitrary rates and generally making us want to do everything but play this game.
Finally, we wanted to end with this commercial which we're fairly certain is fan-made, especially because there's no purchasing or release information at the end. But it's what an NHL 94 commercial might have looked like, even if no one's head is bleeding and it doesn't mention the word deke.
If you know of or locate any more classic EA NHL spots to add to this post, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Now, if you'll excuse us, we need to see if the computer's done simulating games through March...