The funereal image of a goalie mask discarded in the desert opens a bold 60-second anthem from the NHL's Arizona Coyotes. Directed by Airton Carmignani (aka, Tino), the film anchors a culturally attuned campaign that packs plenty of surprises, subverting hockey tropes and making a play for greater inclusivity in the sport.
"The mask at the beginning is old hockey, the static conventions of the sport that the Coyotes are looking to evolve beyond," says Chris Juhas, creative director at MullenLowe, which developed the initiative.
"Hockey's been a bit slower than other major American sports to diversify its rosters and its audience, but in a state as multi-ethnic as Arizona, inclusiveness is the key," Juhas says. "The idea was to take a fresh look at hockey, not as it is but as it could be—inviting a broader community to see themselves represented in the identity of the organization."
The film features some stylized game action from Gila River Arena—but not much, focusing instead on the team's respect and adoration of all things Arizona.
Along with that stirring opening shot, other highlights include:
- A warrior with a flaming hockey stick, portrayed by Lyndsey Fry, a local standout who won a silver medal with the U.S. Women's National Team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. These days, she heads up the Coyotes' Kachinas girls' youth squad. (Fry also founded an LGBTQ+/Allies league.)
- Kachinas players and other Arizonans sprinting through the woods, performing at a rodeo, and facing off for street hockey in temperatures approaching 110 degrees.
- Phoenix chef Silvana Salcido Esparza cooking an octopus. Eat it, Detroit Red Wings! (Not literally. That dish is just a diss.)
"We wanted to use the grit and tenacity of life in the Southwest and the audacity of hockey in a desert to infuse the team and community with a unique kind of pride—but there's more to Arizona than just desert," Juhas says. "Landscapes from valleys full of Saguaro to red rock canyons and pine groves informed the color palette. Embracing all the colors and climates of an unexpected hockey state directly supported the idea of celebrating all the unexpected types of fans who live there."
One of those local fans, a teenager, provides narration.
"In the spirit of unconventionality, we wanted to cast a strong, young female voice," Juhas explains. "It's a voice you'd never expect to hear as the spokesperson of a hockey organization, but ultimately exactly the voice that symbolized a more inclusive and dynamic future for the brand and the sport." (Citing the girl's age, the team declined to identify her.)
The Kachina coyote logo, representing unity and oneness, returns this year after a lengthy absence, and features prominently in all facets of the campaign. (Kachinas are Native American spirits with the power to protect and heal human beings.)
Themed "We Hockey," the work also includes digital partnerships with Spotify and Pinterest, an interactive AR filter for Instagram, and Kachina-infused OOH elements:
"The film and static assets were all shot by a crew of 12 over three days under sun so hot, it melted one of our creative's shoes," Juhas recalls.
"As the Coyotes organization and their roster go through a period of rebuilding, we wanted this work to set a clear intention for the Arizona hockey community. We hope they feel like this is a step in the direction of a new kind of hockey that welcomes anyone and everyone out onto the ice through tangible action and community involvement."
The approach shares similarities with Scotiabank's recent "Hockey for All" effort, in which Canadian players and coaches representing various races and orientations ice out their critics.
Creative Agency: MullenLowe
Executive Creative Director - Laura Sampedro
Executive Creative Director - Carlos Alija
Creative Director - Chris Juhas
Senior Copywriter - Gloria Concepcion
Senior Art Director - Mary Wuensch
Head of Design - Fabio Brigido
Senior Designer - Aaron Candor
Senior Designer - Fazel Sayeh
VP, Director of Creative Technology - Martin Pagh Ludvigsen
VP, Head of Integrated Production - Kate Hildebrant
Integrated Broadcast Producer - Katie Frank
VP, Director of Art Production - Karen Youngs
Digital Producer - Jenny Bello
Head of Strategy - Mollie Partesotti
Senior Brand Strategist - Sheida Karami
Managing Director - Javier Passerieu
VP, Account Director - Abby Inman
Account Supervisor - Ana Boyadjian
VP, Director of BA - Davina Turnbull
Senior Business Affairs - Monica Silverman
Business Affairs Assistant - Madison Kercheval
Senior Project Manager - Chad Daniel
Senior Project Manager - Leigh Daniels
Client: Arizona Coyotes
Owner - Alex Meruelo Sr.
Chief Brand Officer - Alex Meruelo Jr.
President, CEO - Xavier A. Gutierrez
Senior Vice President, Marketing - Tania Moreno
Senior Vice President, Content & Entertainment Experience - Chadwick Folkestad
Vice President, Social Media & Brand Strategy - Marissa Mast
PR Director - Rico Ripoly
Production Company: Loveboat
Partner - Jeff Baron
Director - Tino
DP - Billy Peña
Executive Producer - Rachel Curl
Line Producer - Sally Hanson
Production Supervisor - Kieran Thompson
Casting Director - Garth Williams
VFX/Post Production Company / TELECINE : MPC LA
Managing Director - Robert Owens
Executive Producer, finishing - Karena Ajamian
Producer, Finishing - Sarah Brennan-athas
Senior Flame Artist - Rob Ufer
Editorial and Sound Design: Yeti
SVP, Director of Editorial, Sound Designer - Emile Doucette
VP, Executive Content Producer - Aubrey Hayden
Associate Motion Design Director - Jorge Noujaim
Editorial 2: Danilo Abraham LCC
Editor - Danilo Abraham
Producer - Katie Frank
Editorial 3: Rock Paper Scissors
Head of Production - Dre Krichevsky
Producer - Whit Johnson
Editor - Derrick Monks
Sound Design, Music and Mixing: Satélite Audio
Creative Producers -
Client Services -
Post Producers & Mixing -
Production Coordinator -
Photography: Holyrad Studio
Photographer - Carmelo Varelo
Producer/Digi Tech - Saskia de Borchgrave