Sports are so much more than wins and losses. It’s about perseverance, desire, fraternity, and emotion. It’s the power of sports that can make thousands of strangers rally together for a common cause. And when all that power is harnessed, a lot of good can come from it.
Just over 20 years ago, the NHL started its annual Hockey Fights Cancer campaign, which now sees all 31 clubs honor the cause in the month of November, bringing to light the fights that so many continue to face, and creating an opportunity for fans to come together to lift them up. The cause is activated creatively and originally by every team with special games, content and storytelling.
In the latest edition of our Fast Five series, we revisit five ways Hockey Fights Cancer was activated by the NHL and its teams:
1) Buffalo Sabres
First up was the Buffalo Sabres, among others, giving their fans the opportunity to share their own story of their own loved ones. In the past, teams have leveraged Snapchat filters to give fans the chance to fill in the blank of who they’re fighting for, but the Sabres took to Instagram Stories. Check out how they created a custom screen for fans to screenshot and to fill in the name of their loved one that’s fighting that fight.
Good stuff from the Sabres activating UGC (on IG Story and Snapchat) & nice Snap filter also, all for #HockeyFightsCancer (across the league this weekend).
— Neil Horowitz (@njh287) November 17, 2019
2) Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators
A couple of Canadian clubs – the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators got cancer patients involved in unique ways. How? By giving them the opportunity to be in the room and lead the pregame routine of announcing that night’s starters to the rest of the players. It made for some feel-good content for social while also offering some access into the locker room. The Sens took it a step further by adding an element of surprise with their guest emcees also being invited to drop the ceremonial first puck for that night’s game. This activation by these teams was a great multi-platform execution, allowing fans in the arena and at home to take it all in.
The #Sens invited four youth from local organizations who have been affected by cancer to announce the starting line-up and surprised them with an announcement that they’d drop the ceremonial puck at #HockeyFightsCancer night. pic.twitter.com/wR98ZbKyxT
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) November 23, 2019
3) Carolina Hurricanes
The Carolina Hurricanes did a ton with content and promotions around Hockey Fights Cancer this year, but we want to call out the unique way they incorporated fans and their stories of fighting into their jerseys. Every team will create and wear special jerseys for the cause—and then auction them off for charity —but the Canes added a nice touch. They had their team’s Season Ticket Members submit the names of their loved ones that are fighting or fought cancer, and then incorporated those names into the number lettering on the jerseys. We all want to help fans feel more personally connected, and putting names to those taking on the difficult and daunting challenge of fighting cancer makes it more real and relatable—the Canes found an original and unique way to do it.
4) New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils asked fans to submit videos describing the stories of how cancer has affected them and their loved ones. Taking it a step beyond submitting names or filling out a card, these are real fans submitting raw videos describing what Hockey Fights Cancer means to them and who they’re fighting for. It lends an extra air of authenticity to the emotion exuding from these fans, and it makes for incredibly powerful content for fans on social and in-arena to connect to the cause and how it affects their community.
5) Pittsburgh Penguins
The Pittsburgh Penguins gave their packed arena of 18,000 fans the opportunity to cheer, rise up and applaud a fellow Pens fan that had won her fight against cancer. Many know the tradition of ringing the bell following a patient’s final chemotherapy treatment. But it was incredibly moving to see this patient ringing the bell in front of those thousands of fans who could express their admiration and adulation, and cheer the triumph of the Hockey Fights Cancer story of this Penguins fan.
Bonus – Gritty and the Philadelphia Flyers
We had to give a short but sweet shout-out to one of the most popular mascots in the world – Gritty, of the Philadelphia Flyers. When a patient wrote to Gritty earlier this year about wanting to dress up as the furry Flyers mascot for Halloween, the team and Gritty took it many steps further, bringing this story to life for Hockey Fights Cancer. The look on this kid’s face is optimism-inducing, a smile that gives hope, which is what Hockey Fights Cancer is all about.
We believe in the power of content collaboration at Greenfly. Whether that’s empowering athletes or community members with content to share or co-creating content with them, allowing them to share content back, we know the community is stronger when content is coming and going from all ends. While Greenfly is used in routing thousands of gameday photos and highlights, images from events, and countless trailers and hype videos, it can also fuel the sharing of powerful stories like those around Hockey Fights Cancer.
Click here to discover more about the Greenfly platform and visit the American Cancer Society, Canadian Cancer Society, and Movember Foundation to learn more about the organizations Hockey Fights Cancer is supporting.