Versus Opens Stanley Cup Ad Campaign Tonight

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Versus will drop the puck on its NHL playoff ad campaign with its March 10 Rangers-Sabers game.

The multiplatform campaign touts the tagline, “I Am The Stanley Cup Playoffs On Versus.”

“Anthem” -- featuring such inanimate objects as the red light, empty seats in the arena, and a certain carnivorous marine mollusk being tossed on to the ice that make the march to Lord Stanley’s Cup come alive -- is a compilation spot. The commercial comprises elements from seven different executions shot by American History X director Tony Kaye, which will run at various stages into the championship round in June.

To that end, a spot focusing on $6 bottles of champagne that never tasted so sweet will air as Versus nears its Game 1 and Game 2 coverage of the Stanley Cup Finals.

“Hey, a sommelier isn’t buying the bottles; it’s the equipment manager. But every player will say that’s the finest bubbly they’ll ever taste,” said Versus marketing vice president Ryan Donovan

Donovan said last year Versus’ playoff campaign centered on great moments from the NHL’s past -- Bobby Orr’s airborne goal, Mark Messier's Cup exuberance for the Rangers -- because the network previously had not been tied to that heritage.

With the current campaign, Versus is focusing on objects that underline the game’s intricacies and passion.

“To the players, a two-minute minor feels like a life sentence, while hitting the cross bar is thief stealing playoff glory,” said Donovan

He says the multimillion dollar campaign also will be expressed on network sports, regional sports networks, cross-channel avails, online and in print.

With the latter, the headline reads “I Am The Stanley Cup Playoffs” and features hockey phrases combined into the form of a player hoisting the coveted Cup. The print ad will run in Hockey News and Sports Illustrated’s April 14 issue, which hits newsstands on April 9, the day Versus’ playoff coverage commences.

Online, Versus will deploy media-rich ads. Those dragging the cursor over the ads will be able to view highlights from the previous night’s action.

In another ad sporting the copy, “I Am Sudden Death,” the rich-media element will enable users to enter their cell phone number and then have alerts directed to their mobile line.

“It will let you know that the [Boston] Bruins and [New Jersey Devils] are about to head into overtime,” explained Donovan.