Thursday, December 06, 2012

Hockey Canada Selling Access to Our Children to Pepsi, Mars, McDonald's & More

Big Food shoots and scores, and scores, and scores, and scores as they pretty much own minor hockey in Canada.

What am I talking about?

Well I was first tipped off to Hockey Canada completely selling out to Big Food with Mars' Play Your Part campaign - where buying Mars bars helps to fund local community rinks.

Here's their television advertisement that very clearly spells out what's in it for Mars - the cultivation of deep emotional brand loyalty and goodwill along with direct sales built on the Canadian institution that is hockey:

That campaign though took me to Hockey Canada, where Hockey Canada is the backbone of official hockey in Canada as it's involved pretty much every step of the way at pretty much every level and age category of competitive hockey. Once there I found their sponsorship page which detailed not only who the sponsors are, but what their purchase of Hockey Canada bought them:
  • General Mills: "provides nutritious snacks for attendees at all of Canada’s national and international championships"
  • McDonalds: "delivers multiple in-venue promotions during Hockey Canada’s national events to enhance the experience and atmosphere for fans, and have recently launched the atoMc Hockey program, which, with the help of atoMc ambassadors Tessa Bonhomme, Drew Doughty and Marc-AndrĂ© Fleury, provides minor hockey teams with a full set of pro-style jerseys and socks, along with official Hockey Canada Atom coaching materials"
  • PepsiCo: "Pepsi, Gatorade and Frito Lay products – can be found on the benches and in the locker rooms of all of Hockey Canada’s national teams and at all Hockey Canada’s national events."
  • Kraft: "Kraft launched its Kraft Assist program, where consumers can win head-to-toe Bauer hockey gear by entering their unique PIN on the Kraft website."
  • Boston Pizza: "Boston Pizza has had major promotions in their restaurants during recent IIHF World Junior Championships, giving away Team Canada prizes, including a set of collectable glasses and a Team Canada jersey."
  • Delissio: "Delissio has exclusive promotional rights in two categories – Frozen Pizza and Ice Cream– as well as full event sponsorship benefits at all Hockey Canada-hosted events."
Food sponsors are also included in the newly minted, "Club Hockey Canada" the launch of which was explained thusly,
"So really, it was a board-driven directive to ensure that kids feel that they’re a part of the same team as Hayley Wickenheiser and Sidney Crosby and Greg Westlake."
And what do kids on Hayley Wickenheiser, Sidney Crosby and Greg Westlake's team get with their membership? Among other things discounts for McDonald's, PepsiCo, Mars, Boston Pizza, and Delissio.

And when they say kids, they mean kids. Check out this video that was posted to Club Hockey Canada's Facebook page:

And what else will the kids be receiving?

Free Mars bars.

Is anyone else out there sad that Hockey Canada, the official face of Canadian Hockey, is comfortable selling junk food purveyors explicit and regular access to even our youngest kids' hearts, minds and waistlines, or am I making a 3 game suspension out of some simple high sticking?

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  1. Passionate and well-argued article, Yoni - thanks for posting it.

    Perhaps the reality is that many activities in which Hockey Canada participates wouldn't happen without sponsorship dollars from these companies. In an ideal world, the only sponsors would be corporations that make healthy or sports-related products, but that just isn't happening - or, at least, it isn't happening enough.

    Maybe we should be more optimistic: You and I both know that junk food is bad for us, so we actively choose to eat healthily, and yet we view the same advertising and sponsorship messages as everyone else. We simply don't respond to what Big Junk Food is trying to sell us.

    I often participate in fundraising 5K runs that are sponsored by companies that make heavily-processed food products. Runners occasionally receive "goody bags" that contain glucose-fructose and sugar-laden granola bars. I simply throw them away. (I follow the Paleo diet, so I don't eat grains, anyway).

    My (rambling) point is, we all make our own choices throughout the day about what we put into our bodies, so simply because a candy manufacturer happens to endorse a sporting activity doesn't mean we should abdicate responsibility for our own well-being.

  2. Anonymous7:51 pm

    Common Sense, do you mean we as adults, or we as kids as well?

    1. As adults, we have a responsibility to ensure our children - and, in my case - grandchildren are eating healthy, nutritious food. For now at least, I can control what my eight-year-old granddaughter eats and drinks because she isn't able to buy anything on her own. She often asks for certain "treats", often things that she's seen advertized or her friends are eating - and it's up to me to say yes or no. I don't know what I'll do when she gets older and more independent; I'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

      I get rather annoyed at her elementary school for giving her "snacks" without my permission, such as cookies or candies. I pack her lunch every day, and I make damn sure that it's balanced and full of things that are good for her. As for fundraisers... I posted a complaint in my Facebook status about being asked to sell toxic mint smoothies, forgetting the editor of the local paper was an FB friend!