After a game of rec hockey, I decided I needed to sit down with the new Avalanche video, #ImagineAvs, and see what I thought. Responses online are mixed, and about as partisan as congress these days. If you haven’t seen it, here it is.
My thoughts? I thought it sucked. But we need to go into why I thought that, and why it doesn’t matter (either that it sucked, or that I thought it sucks).
Why it sucked:
OK, let’s start with the simplest and most obvious issue: lip-syncing. Why are the Avs lip syncing? Why do we need Paul Stastny lip-syncing “whoa oh?” It’s fairly obvious that the Avs players did not suddenly form some ****-rock band and put out a video. If you are going to do lip-syncing, it should be fun. Moody, brooding, I’m-sad-on-the-inside-and-buff-on-the-outside lip-syncing isn’t interesting.
And I called it ***-rock above because I don’t know what to call this. I wasn’t a fan of the song, and I don’t want to compare it to Creed (because that’s some seriously low hanging fruit, like almost touching the ground). But what is this? Wikipedia says they are an “alternative rock band” but I don’t see it. Alternative to… good?
What the hell is an Imagine Dragon? Know what? I’m going to let that one go. Naming things is hard.
The song, Radioactive, doesn’t seem to go anywhere. I understand you don’t want a lot of depth when you are looking for music to backup a sports franchise, but when you pair it with moody images of players trying to be intense, you are creating (or trying to create) depth. The two things don’t mesh. The closest thing to a message the song has is “Welcome to the new age,” which is an appropriate comment on the change in culture the Avalanche have experienced. Beyond that, the song never seems to go anywhere.
Jay and I discussed songs that talk about being “ready to rock you” like this one does, but never actually get to the rocking, at the end of episode 84 of the Avs Hockey Podcast. This is a classic example. They are ready to rock us, but haven’t started, and I doubt their ability to do so.
Who the hell is that guy with the homie jazz hands and the bass drum? Is that an Imagine Dragon? Is that John Mitchell? Has there been anyone since Limp Bizkit that looked cool doing this? I’m pretty sure Smashmouth tried this once and someone got hurt.
Hey, why so moody, Avalanche players? Landeskog, you look sad. And why so angry, Matt Duchene? You are playing well, the fans are into the games, you are in a playoff position. What’s with the gloom and doom? You don’t need to get all “Friendship is magic” on us, but come on. Lighten up.
What worked for me:
Hockey highlights. They didn’t do their usual photoshop filter job and screw up the highlights to make them look cool and hip. Hockey looks cool enough, don’t screw with it. They didn’t here.
The shots of Denver.
High production values. The Avalanche media team did a good job with the quality of the video. It looked excellent, which is what it has to do, because you know they will be showing this on their huge HD jumbotron in the Pepsi Center.
What really matters:
Did you catch what the issue here is? Did you notice why my opinion of the video doesn’t matter in the long run?
What did I like about the video? The hockey, because I am a hockey fan. This isn’t aimed at people who are already hockey fans.
Does the average Avs fan need moody players? No.
Do they need the cheesecake shots? I can think of a few, but put out a calendar.
Do we need stalking and beating drums? Nope.
We need winning to bring back the fans to the ice. And the Avalanche have been winning. And the fans are starting to come back. The 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues game needed standing room only ticket sales to meet the demand. It’s been a while since that has been the case.
No, this isn’t for me, and that’s just fine.
The real question is how it will play with the people whom it is for, namely people who are not yet Avalanche fans. That’s something that’s harder to measure. They say you throw away half your advertising budget, but you never know which half. Even if it’s less true in the online market, it’s true with traditional media. It is going to be hard to tie this video directly with any increase in ticket or merchandise sales. Or Imagine Dragon album sales. Or sales of imaginary dragons.
What is good is that the Avalanche are finally making things like this. They are starting to embrace using their players as the best advertisement of the game. They are making things that move and flow, not just stills with funky filters and photoshop images in TV ads. For years, the sighting of a billboard with the Avalanche on it was like spotting a rare majestic bird. The Avs haven’t pushed their presence to the public in a long time, and they have paid the price.
Being critical of this video should be separated from being happy they put it out there. It’s been a long time since the Avalanche seemed to care enough to put their message out, and they finally have product on the ice that is worth advertising about. This sort of effort has been a long time coming.
My overall concern is whether the Avalanche put out the story they want to tell. All marketing is storytelling, and the Avs can shape and tell the story about their team they want to have. For years, the story the Boston Bruins have told is the hard-working, lunch pail gang going to do their job. The Montreal Canadiens story is the elite history of the game, the dynasty years and the hockey glory that has been handed to the next generation of players. The Toronto Maple Leafs trade on the traditions of the game. The Flyers build their story out of toughness.
What story are the Avalanche telling with this video? What story are the Avalanche trying to tell in general? Those are the questions I have after watching this. It’s not the story I would want told about this team.