Boston Pizza, the largest Canada-based pizza chain, knows that Vancouver Canucks fans would rather chew tinfoil than cheer for the hated Toronto Maple Leafs. And a Calgary Flames fan would never root for the team’s Alberta arch-rival, the Edmonton Oilers.

But on the eve of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the casual dining chain is making a plea for some much-needed Canadian unity as the birthplace of hockey seeks to end a championship drought spanning three decades.

The initiative is a stroke of marketing genius from the pizza chain, which appears to be looking to tap into something most Canadians can agree on: it’s been far too long since a Canadian NHL team hoisted the Stanley Cup. In fact, it’s been over 30 years since the Montreal Canadiens won the Cup in 1993. Back then, Jurassic Park was the biggest movie at the box office, people were mostly using pagers, not cellphones, it was the year the Backstreet Boys formed and beer on the BP menu was $2.

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The new “Team Up for the Cup” campaign is urging Canadians to temporarily—and perhaps even begrudgingly—put aside their regular season allegiance to their favorite team and support all the teams competing to bring the Cup back to Canada for the first time since 1993. It’s Camp Jefferson’s first major work for BP since winning the account late last year.

“The funny thing is that despite our competitiveness, we’ve all been suffering together for decades,” said Ian Barr, senior vice president, head of strategy at Camp Jefferson, a digital advertising agency out of Toronto that helped build the campaign. “It’s been over 30 years since the Cup has been on Canadian soil. That’s ridiculous. As a brand that’s about bringing people together, we thought it would be fun to leverage that shared suffering.”

The playoff campaign is running across TV/OLV, radio, social and contextually reactive digital and OOH placements in the vicinity of Canadian teams’ home arenas. All the assets drive to a dedicated microsite where fans are invited to sign a detailed pledge of support for every Canadian team still standing in playoffs, regardless of how they feel about them for the rest of the year.

Camp Jefferson first started teasing the campaign with street-level ads referencing just how much time has elapsed since a Canadian team last bought the Cup home. Components included ads referencing period-specific elements including the long-defunct Blockbuster Video chain (“the last time a Canadian team won the Cup, this was a Blockbuster), and telephone booths (“…people still used these”). Additionally, a nationwide influencer and sports personalities campaign is distributing items reminiscent of the last time a Canadian team won the cup (remember Beanie Babies?).

Posters hang on a telephone booth and on the front window of a storefront.
Boston Pizza

The campaign itself is anchored by a 30-second spot called “30 Years of Suffering” which references some of the heartbreaking playoff defeats that fans of Canadian teams have endured over the past three decades. As fans identify the various losses suffered by Canadian teams over the years, we see a smashed wall, a plate embedded in a shattered TV screen, a TV being driven over by a truck, and a radio being thrown after a heartbreaking knockout. The spot is anarrated by Chris Cuthbert, the voice of hockey in Canada and who calls the Stanley Cup Final on Sportsnet and is responsible for one of the most famous calls in Canadian hockey history: Sidney Crosby’s overtime “golden goal” in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

The spot strikes a hopeful tone, however, by showing fans of rival teams (uneasily) coming together at Boston Pizza to cheer on Canada’s teams before directing to the campaign website.

“As a brand that’s all about bringing people together, the NHL Playoffs are a big time for us at Boston Pizza,” said James Kawalecki, Vice President Marketing at Boston Pizza International. “People come to Boston Pizza because they’re hungry for more than just food, and after over 30 years of suffering, they’re hungry for a win.”

The campaign aligns with Boston Pizza’s longstanding strategy of creative and engaging marketing that taps into major cultural markets and exists across both traditional and emerging media channels. Previous examples include last year’s temporary “name change” to “Auston Pizza” after Auston Matthews’ Leafs advanced in the first round while their bitter rivals the Boston Bruins were eliminated, and its “Patio Retraining” program after pandemic restrictions were ended.

Boston Pizza has 373 locations in Canada, 22 in the US, and 22 in Mexico.