Bears, Blackhawks Team Up for Ad Campaign

Blackhawks look to latch on Bears' brand as team popularity grows

By Eamonn Brennan
|  Thursday, Oct 15, 2009  |  Updated 3:11 PM CDT
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The Chicago Bears are a big deal. The Blackhawks are getting close to being a big deal.

In order to get over the popularity hump, the Blackhawks are working teamed with the Bears for a series of cross-promotional ads between Hawks players and Bears players. The Chicago Tribune's Phil Rosenthal has details:

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews trade tips on passing accuracy. Bears linebacker Lance Briggs and Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook compare notes on how big hits can lead to big turnovers.

Bears kicker Robbie Gould, with the Blackhawks' Patrick Sharp holding, tries to boot a field goal into a hockey net strapped to the uprights.

[...] Spots taped Tuesday include Cutler offering the Blackhawks advice on beating Detroit, the Hawks' Patrick Kane shooting footballs for the Bears' Devin Hester to return, and the Blackhawks' Brian Campbell helping out Bears tight end Greg Olsen. The point is to have some fun and show a little personality.

Do those ads sound funny to you? Not to be all Debbie Downer here, but we have to admit we're not sure the concept is particularly funny in and of itself. Then again, a premium cable television show about an angry, socially inept Jewish guy doesn't inherently sound funny, but "Curb Your Enthusiasm" is pretty awesome. Maybe you just have to see the ads to get your yuks, which, you know, would make sense.

But it doesn't matter anyway. There's a business plan underwriting this whole bit, and it has very little to do with whether or not we get a chuckle when we see Patrick Kane firing pucks at Devin Hester:

The genesis of the campaign comes from a National Hockey League executives meeting in May when someone tossed out a statistic that 92 percent of NHL fans are also National Football League fans.

"I remember writing the word 'Bears' and circling it," said Jay Blunk, the Blackhawks senior vice president of business operations. "The Blackhawks are an up-and-coming brand, on the move. But the Chicago Bears are an iconic international brand. So when it came to attaching our brand to something with great credibility and great reach, there was no bigger fish than the Chicago Bears. We were very fortunate the Bears allowed us to do this."

The Blackhawks paid to shoot the ads and to buy ad time, and the Bears will air the ads on programs they own. Which means the Blackhawks get to align their brand -- the young, exciting hockey team -- with the Bears, and for a commercial spot or two they get to pretend hockey is as big a deal in this city as professional football.

Sometimes, if you pretend long enough, the pitch becomes something more. It becomes truth. (We're pretty sure Don Draper said that once.)

Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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