NHL Scores With Cup Confidential Campaign


What content works best on social media? This is a question we receive frequently from current and potential clients particularly as social media becomes an increasingly important component of sports properties and their partners’ marketing strategies.

 The NHL’s Cup Confidential campaign is an example of an effective answer to this question. Cup Confidential is a video series where players from the NHL teams in the playoffs shoot videos of their daily lives to share on social media. This campaign “is part of the NHL’s efforts to elevate and highlight the personalities of its on-ice stars.”

One reason to emphasize the players’ personalities is that the NHL can then maximize the value of its social media content. Social media is not unlike other types of activations that B6A evaluates with our Corporate Asset Valuation Model (CAV). More specifically, the goal of social media is to maximize the quantity, quality, and engagement of a targeted audience through video, image, and text content.

What the NHL as well as other teams and leagues have discovered is that athletes are good at maximizing all three levers to drive value. From a quantity perspective, the 100+ videos of the Cup Confidential campaign have generated 58 million impressions across multiple different social media platforms.

While this is a significant number of impressions, where focusing on players can really help the NHL drive value is on the quality and engagement side. For example, our Social Sentiment Analysis Platform (SAP) found that the NHL can often more effectively target high income demographics than its partners can on their own.

However, individual players can be even more effective at targeting than the NHL. Our SAP platform examined Twitter follower demographics for the Boston Bruins’ Brad Marchand versus the NHL and versus the Twitter population overall because Marchand was featured in one of the Cup Confidential videos.

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This example demonstrates another reason why featuring players as social media influencers can be an effective strategy for league or team campaigns. In particular, Marchand’s ability to reach more high-income demographics that are a particularly in-demand audience for companies increases the value of a potential partnership with the league.

Marchand is also an example of how the NHL can more effectively engage this audience through social media than other channels. Engagement is increasingly becoming important to companies because it can drive tangible business outcomes.

A recent study published by professors at Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, and Carnegie Mellon University of 782 companies found that “inclusion of widely used content related to brand personality—like humor and emotion—is associated with higher levels of consumer engagement (Likes, comments, shares)…[There] are benefits to content engineering that combines informative characteristics that help in obtaining immediate leads (via improved click-throughs) with brand personality–related content that helps in maintaining future reach and branding on the social media site (via improved engagement).”

The Marchand post specifically and the NHL Cup Confidential campaign more generally are examples of this type of content that could fit within this type of “content engineering.” For example, the Marchand post on the NHL’s Facebook channel generated over 8,900 likes, shares, and comments with an engagement rate that is both higher than the media average specifically and the industry average overall.    

The Cup Confidential campaign helps validate the NHL’s decision to focus on players particularly as relates to maximizing social media value. Partners should also examine the value of athletes in this influencer marketing context. While players can often help teams and leagues maximize the number of impressions to a lucrative audience with engaging content, they can accomplish many of the same goals for companies as well. Having athlete activations, particularly within social media, should be an important consideration for companies as part of a larger partnership with a league or team.