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PWHPA, Budweiser take another step in partnership

Chelsea Purcell talks about their partnership

Michelle Jay

With a slick video using “The Hockey Song” as a backdrop, Budweiser Canada unveiled the latest step in their partnership with the PWHPA — a call to action for others to get engaged and support the association.

“This piece came together because they (Budweiser Canada) don’t want to just have the focus on them, but they really, truly want to grow the women’s game. They know that it can’t just be them and a few other partners. It needs to be more people stepping up to do the same,” Chelsea Purcell, the PWHPA’s Corporate Sponsorship Consultant for Canada, said in an interview with The Ice Garden.

“That’s kind of the idea behind it. They make this statement in a very strong, impactful way, hoping to generate some major buzz and awareness that will make others realize that they need to step up too,” she continued.

The video features various prominent names in hockey singing lines from “The Hockey Song” with smiles and enthusiasm. When the (fictional) game being played in the video finishes, the tone changes, the colors mute, and the song goes into a spoken word form, said by Natalie Spooner, Sarah Nurse, and Renata Fast in a locker room. The lights go out in a rink before cutting back to more lyrics being spoken by fans and Shannon Szabados. It’s a powerful message.

The video moves on to state the women’s game lost funding before rolling out the call to action. The voiceover says, “Budweiser is committed to sponsor the women’s game.” It continues to call this “step one” and asks for others to step up.

More PWHPA players are featured towards the end saying “For Us All” as the overlaying message is that the good ol’ hockey game should be for us all.

Budweiser Canada and the PWHPA

From the very beginnings of the PWHPA, Budweiser Canada has been working with the players and the board. A former CWHL player works for one of the agencies Budweiser Canada uses and had been pushing women’s hockey to them. Then, the company saw the impact of Budweiser USA had on the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), and the partnership moved quickly from there.

“I think they realized that they need to do that for Canada’s sport, which is hockey. So it didn’t take them long. Once this whole movement came together and all the players were in one spot, they wanted to support the For The Game movement in a big way. They actually pitched the idea. They knew what they wanted to do. They just want to know how they could support us in the best way. So kind of one of those dream partnerships.”

It should be noted that Budweiser Canada and Budweiser USA don’t work together, they market separately. So, it’s something of a coincidence that the PWHPA and the NWSL are doing similar things with the “King of Beers”.

Purcell credited the beer giant for their commitment to have it be a true partnership and not just a sponsorship. “There are so many different things that are part of this partnership that makes it a full partnership versus just a sponsorship. They’re very clear on that,” she said. “When I work with them, they are like ‘this is not just a sponsorship thing. This is not just giving you money. We want to help. We’re here to support you guys.’”

She confirmed there is a financial aspect involved, but that also involves the company using their marketing to produce and promote content such as this video, something the PWHPA can’t do as they currently have no marketing budget. The organization relies on the power of social media and its partners.

“When we get a partner that comes in and puts up a huge spend to be able push a campaign and push our movement, that’s what we need,” she explained. “We don’t have those dollars and companies like Budweiser, they have huge marketing spends. So for them to be able to push something that impacts a lot of people’s lives and the future of the sport, they’re all for that.”

Another aspect is the fan experience and activations at games. At the first Dream Gap Tour stop, they hosted a beer garden with Budweiser tables, coolers, and signage. Purcell described the company as wanting to impact all the experiences of being at the game as well as when fans watch from home.

As for the future, Purcell hopes this partnership with Budweiser proves what women’s hockey can do for a partner. She’s already seen people saying they’ll drink Budweiser because of this.

But, in a larger sense, she hopes having a name like Budweiser adds clout for women’s hockey and women’s sports. “We want to show the future of the game what is possible, and whatever the future league may be. When a partner gets behind it and promotes it, big things can happen.”