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Jun 14, 2023

The best Stanley Cup Playoff ads

Dayna Lang
Author Dayna Lang

The Stanley Cup Playoffs have finally come to an end and to celebrate the Vegas Golden Knights victory and the conclusion of the NHL season, take a look at some of the most successful NHL ads from playoffs from year’s past and what makes them work. 

The NHL is great at grabbing its audience’s attention with memorable music, strong visuals, and narratives that capture hearts and imaginations. In their ads for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they humanize their players, coaches, and staff in order to bring audiences into the fold and make them feel like part of the magic. 

These ads make the Stanley Cup a dream that the NHL’s audience can’t wait to see realized, no matter the victor. This is effective because it draws in viewers, even when their favorite team has already been eliminated. Audience members feel encouraged to tune in, not just for a team or a player, but for the magic moment the Cup is awarded. 


Our top 6 Stanley Cup Playoff ads

These ads make up the best NHL ads for the Stanley Cup Playoffs from past and present. 

1. If This Cup Could Talk

The soft music and powerful narrative voice of this ad evoke nostalgia, bringing in its audience and tugging at their heartstrings. The story beautifully personifies the Stanley Cup in order to explore the heart of every human who has touched it, and who it has touched. Alongside these powerful narrative elements, are evoking visuals from the last 150 years, of players, coaches, and caretakers – photos that bring a sense of importance to the playoffs and establish the game as more than just a finale, but a historic event. 

2. Spelling

Music, once again, plays a major role in this ad. So does celebrity. This ad has past champions spelling out their names, just as they did when they were recorded and etched in the Stanley Cup for all to see. The human element of the ad is impossible to ignore – as is the powerful celebrity lineup. With such a huge number of familiar faces and household names, this ad makes the upcoming games feel like an unmissable event. 

3. Kiss Me

 No one forgets their first kiss, especially not NHLers who’ve finally won the coveted Stanley Cup. This ad shines with its humor, catchy music, and emotional storytelling. What makes this ad stand out from everything else on this list is its lighthearted approach. The song choice proves that you don’t need tears to fall in order for an emotionally charged message to be conveyed. And by comparing a player kissing the Stanley Cup for the first time to a significant first that everyone can relate to, this ad captures imaginations and tells a powerful story. 

4. They All Want the Cup 

Childhood is a powerful story. This ad wonderfully plays with the childhood themes, evoking memories in its audience and reminding them that the players on their screen were all children once too, children who dreamed of one day winning the Stanley Cup. The ad is effective because it reminds its audience that by watching the Stanley Cup finals, they are watching people achieve their lifelong dream. 

5. No Words

This ad is a fantastic example of just how long the NHL has been creating effective media for this campaign. As far back as 2010, the Stanley Cup Finals have been shown as a moment of power and a moment of tradition through powerful calls to emotion. The collection of interview clips shown in this ad beautifully convey the overwhelming emotion of winning the cup and work to encourage audiences to tune in so that they, too, can be part of the momentous occasion. 

6. Handoff

The folk music in this ad evokes a sense of togetherness that is matched by its theme perfectly. The “handoff” of the cup is a powerful tradition, and in this ad, audience members are reminded that the Stanley Cup never truly belongs to one team, but to everyone. The winners may be temporary custodians of this symbolic trophy, but they too will one day pass it on. Tradition is a powerful thing, and by reminding audiences of the tradition of Hockey, the NHL is cleverly drawing them in and calling them to action – calling on them to once again turn on their TVs and participate in the annual tradition of handing off the cup. 


Key Takeaways 

By calling upon fan’s emotions and telling powerful stories, the NHL has succeeded in capturing imaginations and encouraging ongoing engagement with the series and with the league. Here’s how they’ve done it:

  1. Emotional call to action – the NHL is great at bringing up powerful emotions in its audience. They do this through great storytelling and playing upon universal human experiences. 
  2. Music makes the heart grow fonder – the NHL chooses fantastic music for its ads. This music works alongside visual elements to target emotions and create powerful stories that can’t be ignored. This music is well known too, making it easy for viewers to relate to quickly. 
  3. Players are people too – By telling intimate, human stories the NHL creates a relatable and engaging narrative that draws people in, not only to the ad, but to the game itself. 


If you want to see more ad roundups be sure to check out The best ads of the NBA Finals and our most viewed ads from the Super Bowl.

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