Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Penguins' new marketing campaign brilliant; could use more shirtless Crosby

The 09' Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins launched a new marketing campaign today in the form of a two minute video, with the theme "Deny Ordinary". While I thought it could use more shirtless pictures of the players (which I have kindly supplied above... you're welcome) , on the whole I have to say it was multi-faceted and brilliant, much as I imagine the Cup itself to be.

The video served the dual purpose of promoting both the city and the team, though the latter needs little introduction or promotion. The world watched two years ago as the Pens fell to the Detroit Red Wings in game 6 of the Stanley Cup Championship, after fighting to get there in the previous game, which Pittsburgh forced into 3 overtimes before finally winning (I didn't make it to work the next day...). The world watched again this year as the same two teams faced off in yet another final Championship series, this time waging war up and through game 7, this time with a different result. Pittsburgh won 3-2.

The video showed clip after clip of the Pens scoring throughout this past season's playoffs; through opponents' legs, ricocheting off the edge of the goal and in, and shot straight in untouched. It showed incredible Marc Andre Fleury saves made possible by splits (maybe he learned a thing or two from George W. Bush's cheerleading skills?). It showed opponents thrown into the glass and fist fights on the ice. And it showed the pinnacle of all those moments; team captain Sidney Crosby hoisting the Stanley Cup high over his head. I got chills reliving all the moments that, the first-time-around, had me on the edge of my seat and jumping up and down starting "Lets Go Pens!" chants.

Equally importantly, thought not as exciting, viewers are also treated to a quick glimpse of some of Pittsburgh's many gems. From the beautiful bridges, to local hot spots, to the university campuses and currently under-construction future Pens' arena slated to open in the fall of 2010, the Consol Energy Center (to replace the aging Igloo), those who watch see a beautiful city with much to offer. Viewers encounter the Penguin players hand delivering the game tickets to season ticket holders, a unique Pittsburgh practice that the viewers also have a chance to experience by submitting an entry for free season tickets at the end of the video.

It shows people like Pittsburgh native and now focus of a museum in the same city dedicated to him and his art, Andy Warhol. And it shows people who are rabid Pens fans like I am, decked head-to-toe in fan gear inside the arena and out where a large screen is set up for fans who don't have tickets to the game and need a place to watch, and where hundreds gather - rain or shine - and camp for hours to be near their team.

From a steel town and heart of the labor movement to a state-of-the-art national leader in the medical and robotics industries, the marketing campaign shows the many facets of the dynamic city.

To outsiders (read, non-Pittsburgh fans) the marketing campaign is an informative opportunity to better know the city. To those of us who know and love Pittsburgh and the Penguins, its a reminder of how great our team and our city are.

Pittsburgh is forced to defy old stereotypes that it is a dying, polluted, blue collar city with little to offer.

Last year, the Pens stood in defiance of those who wrote them off and didn't think they would make the playoffs (they were, after all, a long shot). They stood in defiance against those who doubted Crosby and Malkin could succeed against Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals in the playoffs, especially starting off the series down 0-2 games. They stood in defiance of those who saw them fall last year to the Detroit Red Wings who were convinced the same would happen this year as they began that series once again the same way they started with the Caps; 0-2. The fans stood with the signs "WE BELIEVE!", defying those who doubted us. The Penguins stood and defied all odds when they played game 7 in Detroit after having lost all previous away games in that series. They stood. And they won. Then they stood with the Cup above their heads, not just for the team, but for the fans and for Pittsburgh.

For an underdog city and an underdog team that just can't be kept down, the slogan "Defy Ordinary" means so much more than just that. Its a more politically correct way that Pittsburghers read as 'Defy the odds', 'Defy the expectations' and 'Defy what people say or think about you, your team, or your city.'

Get a first hand look at the video and marketing campaign here:

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