Snoop Dogg teaching you about hockey? It might not be the first thing that comes to mind as you scroll through your social media feed, but as part of this year’s coverage around the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the NHL has turned to the entertainer to help bolster its content around the league’s postseason.
This isn’t the first time Snoop has been a part of a major NHL event, and it was the interactions he has had with not only the game, but the players that sparked the idea of maybe there being something more to this relationship.
“We invited Snoop to our All-Star Game in Los Angeles a couple years ago. He came to perform and wanted to be a part of the All-Star Game,” said NHL Chief Content Officer and EVP Steve Mayer. “We brought him around before rehearsal and the memory for me was his interest in being there and going to the locker room to meet the All-Stars. I watched as he walked into the Eastern Conference locker room and the first person he saw was Sidney Crosby. When he saw him, he screamed, ‘Sid the Kid!’ Right off the bat you could tell that not only was he a genuine guy, but he was genuinely interested in the game and the players. He was totally into it.”
It was in that moment that Mayer saw a relationship that could go much further beyond Snoop just performing at the All-Star Game. Not only was Mayer into it, but so was Snoop, who felt he could provide the NHL with a gateway to an audience that he thought was untapped for the league.
“We started the conversation about what else we could do together because he was really into it,” said Mayer. “He talked with us about the fact that he felt there was a whole other world out there that would love hockey if they just got to watch it.”
When it comes to what they were looking for from the content, Mayer saw it attracting to both avid and casual fans for different reasons.
“Our interest at the league level is to put these out and have them be consumed by everyone. For the avid fans, we think it’s entertaining. For casual fans, it’s a way to attract them, give them a little information on the game and then hope that turns into them watching a game on TV.”
Four episodes in and Mayer couldn’t be happier with how they have been received.
“We are really happy with how successful they have been. There is plenty of chatter socially. Across the episodes we have put out, we have gotten over 27 million hits.”
Discussing the project internally, the content team at the NHL had plenty of ideas to work with. From slang and history to rules and highlights, narrowing down what they wanted Snoop to present was one of the more difficult parts of the process.
“When we first pitched the idea, we focused more on the rules of the game, as we moved forward from there, we knew we wanted to mix it up and look at the rules and the traditions of the game,” said Mayer. “There where many subjects put on the table. We all talked about it and narrowed them down to the ten we will be running through the Stanley Cup Final.”
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Working with the likes of Snoop Dogg is just one part of the content equation for the NHL during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. By focusing on more personality and celebrity-driven content, Mayer and his team see an opportunity to cut through the noise of the immense amount of content created today and do so in a way that is entertaining.
“There is so much content out there and we believe the short, consumable highlights we produce work well. What really cuts through these days are those personalities,” mentioned Mayer when speaking about why the NHL works with celebrities including Charles Barkley, Carrie Underwood, and Luke Bryan. “They not only provide the audience with compelling and entertaining content, they are polarizing in a way where people talk about them. Our fans have strong opinions on both ends of the spectrum but at the same time, it gets the discussion going.”
Although it may be good to have big-name celebrities present during the biggest and most visible time of the year for the league, Mayer puts an emphasis on authenticity when the league decides to work with any “influencer”.
“One of the things that we have done across the board is to ensure that everyone we have brought in is a hockey fan. We’re not just bringing in random people. We want people who have a passion for the game and who check a few boxes, one of those boxes being popularity. We think it brings us into the world of pop culture and it translates into more viewers, more people interested in the game and at the end of the day, more fans.”
The collaboration with Snoop is as much driven by him as it is by the NHL, something that Mayer found instantly attractive when it came to working together.
“I think there are a lot of possibilities. I think what we like is his sense of what he feels he can bring to the table and what he feels like we are missing. He is very vocal about the ways in which he can help. He recognizes that there is a community that he speaks to and that would love the game just like he does, but might not be the group we are talking to on a regular basis.”
“As he says, ‘I can help you diversify your portfolio.’” – Steve Mayer, NHL Chief Content Officer and EVP on Snoop Dogg’s commitement to helping grow the game of hockey.
The influence of celebrity is all part of the NHL’s comprehensive content strategy, one that Mayer points to as being fun and playful but compelling.
“We are not taking ourselves that seriously. We want to have fun, we want to make people laugh, we want to entertain ultimately. All of this is part of an overall strategy that we have where we can have fun, but also not hurt anybody.”
And fun they are having. Thanks to Dogg Cherry, aka “The Greater One” along with a whole team of content staffers, the NHL has kept timelines full and fans craving more.