Dunkin' Plays a Different Kind of Bubble Hockey in Its New NHL Ad

Pastrňák and Oshie star as arcade figurines

We've heard of sports teams playing inside the bubble, but this is ridiculous.

NHL stars David Pastrňák of the Boston Bruins and T.J. Oshie of the Washington Capitals morph into bubble-hockey arcade figurines and hit the ice—well, plastic, actually—for this stop-motion spot from Dunkin':

Inside the Bubble With Dunkin' | Empty Net

The half-minute ad developed by BBDO New York and Hornet director Peter Sluszka revolves around Dunkin' Cold-Brew coffee. (In this game, icing is a good thing!)

At one point, mini-Pastrňák gets stuck in a corner, spinning helplessly, unable to reach the puck. "Guys, I'm like super annoyed right now," he quips. Who knew ice coffee went so well with Pasta? (Nickname humor.)

"Every year we look for a new way to bring to life the Dunkin' NHL partnership," BBDO executive creative director Steven Fogel tells Muse. "With all that's going on, this year was a little different. We're all sort of living in our own little bubbles, which got us thinking about everyone's favorite game: bubble hockey."

Working with arcade company Super Chexx, the team developed a standard-sized custom table and an oversized version of the game, allowing the camera to zoom in and capture all the details. "Hornet mapped it all out and sculpted the figures to really capture the guys' likenesses, right down to Pasta's chipped tooth," Fogel says.

It took six to eight hours to film each frame of the 30-second commercial, and the team crafted two-dozen specialized painted heads for Pastrňák and Oshie to bring the action to life.

"For a couple of weeks, it was near constant communication, going over animatics, recording the players, and plotting out all the hockey action to be as realistic as possible," recalls Doug Fallon, also an agency ECD. "There was a lot of great discussion on specifics: 'What's the exact color of Pasta's plastic beard?' How many times should he swivel? How many ice cubes would fit in a mini bubble hockey Dunkin' Cold Brew?"

It's a clever skate-around, allowing the team to craft a compelling spot without bringing the platers together IRL during quarantine.

"There's definitely a lot of cool stuff left over from the shoot—the bubble games, Pasta and Oshie figures, plus their tiny heads in every possible facial expression," Fallon says. "Some plans are underway to get them into some lucky Dunkin' fans hands."

Naturally, the stars took their best shots to tease the concept on social:


Client: Dunkin'
Campaign: Bubble Hockey

Client: Dunkin'
Sr. Brand Manager: Corie McNeil
Associate Manager: Briana Appel

Agency: BBDO NY
Chief Creative Officer, Worldwide: David Lubars
Executive Creative Director: Doug Fallon
Executive Creative Director: Steven Fogel
Creative Director: Talon Gustafson
Creative Director: Brian Pinkley
EVP, Group Executive Producer: Diane Hill
Senior Producer: Mike Woodall
Senior Music Producer: Julia Millison
Music Production Intern: Katie Theobalds
EVP, Senior Director: Jim Santora
VP, Account Director: Carrie White
Account Executive: Griffin Heller
Assistant Account Executive: Sydney Doerge
VP, Group Planning Director: Marc Allen

Production Company: Hornet
Director Name: Peter Sluszka
Managing Director: Hana Shimizu
Head of Production: Karen Lawler
Head of Creative Development: Kristin Labriola
Production Supervisor: Dez Stavracos
Producer: Trever Stewart
Associate Producer: Riley Spencer
Senior Editor: Anita Chao
Assistant Editor: Minseok Kim
Production Coordinator: Lotty Vigue

Storyboard Artist: Sean Lattrell
Character Designer: Cat Rao
Design Exploration: Jennifer Ely
Design Intern: Tyler West

Stop Motion
Line Producer: Joel Kretschman
Director of Photography: Ivan Abel
VFX Supervisor: John Harrison
Motion Control Operator: Richard Coppola

Gaffer: Michael Yetter
BB Electric: Chris Clarke
Key Grip: Balz Beillmann
BB Grip: Adam Lukens, Steven Ploe

Art Director Tim McDonald
Fabricators: Peter Erickson, Maxwell Sorensen, Mikail Ekiz, Illya Smelansky, Camille Labarre, David Assel, Ben Kress, Nico Benenati, Argon Props

Animators: Mikail Ekiz, Matt Somma, Maxwell Sorensen

Food Stylist: Sandra White
Food Stylist Asst.: Dilara Orer

Safety Officer: Robert Berman
Cleaning Tech: Gerardo Ruiz
Production Assistant: Koren Harpaz

Lead Compositor: John Harrison
Compositor: Guilherme Ferreirinha, Xiaoxiao Tan, Ted Wiggin

Color: Honest Labor Color
Colorist: Shawn King
Color Producer: Alex Rochinski

Audio Post-Production: Sound Lounge
Audio Mixer: Rob DiFondi
Sound Designer: Marshall Grupp
Senior Producer: Lauren Mullen

Manufacturing Partner: Home Arcade Games

David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is managing editor at Clio Awards.

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