After the Hurricanes beat the Canadiens in Montreal, the team sent a link to their website to their 506,000 followers on Twitter: DidTheHabsLose.com.
The site featured a photo banner with the word “YES” in bold type. Underneath were two links to purchase two Hurricanes player t-shirts: one for center Sebastian Aho, who the Canadiens unsuccessfully tried to pull out of Carolina with a free agent offer in 2019; and one for forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi, whom the Hurricanes poached from Montreal via a bid sheet last offseason. The shirts were on sale for $ 20 – which is Aho’s number and Kotkaniemi’s signature bonus – to anyone using the “yes” promo code.
It was a bit of an extraordinary bit of post-game glee and NHL social media trolling, and one that managed to turn the Hurricanes into profit in the process.
“It is literally our job: to entertain and generate income. It did both of those things, ”Mike Forman, vice president of marketing and branding for the Hurricanes, told ESPN on Friday. “If you’re a Montreal Canadiens fan, it probably rubbed you the wrong way. But we don’t build our marketing plan around supporters of Canadians or the Canadian media for that matter. We are building it for our supporters.
Forman said planning for this stunt began three weeks ago during a weekly meeting with Dan LaTorraca, the team’s senior marketing director.
“We have a lot of ideas. Most never see the light of day, ”Forman said. “We decided to reserve a few URLs. Obviously, if we lose a game, we won’t do anything with them. “
The Hurricanes have reserved areas for four teams to do the same thing they did with the Canadiens. One of those teams is the Washington Capitals. Another is the Carolina Hurricanes themselves, to cover their bases and show a little self-deprecation.
“It won’t be a secret. These will be the teams we’ve had fun with on social media over the past few years, ”said Forman.
There was a discussion about buying URLs for all 32 NHL teams.
“We thought about it. But we are not real fools. We are figurative fools. Our philosophy is that we will not throw a first punch. But we’ll throw the second punch and we’ll try to knock it out, ”Forman said, referring to the“ Bunch of Jerks ”nickname former“ Hockey Night in Canada ”commentator Don Cherry gave to. the team.
The first deployment of the lagging website was a success. But an unexpected incident quickly ended the fun: DidTheHabsLose.com was hacked overnight and turned into a hurricane-resistant website. Carolina owner Tom Dundon called Forman on Friday morning to ask if this was a real hack or if the marketing team had it set up as part of the bit.
“No, we actually got hacked,” Forman said with a laugh. “Honestly, he’s just gaining more traction because of it. “
The team is debating what to do with the hacked website.
“We can have fun with it, or we can talk to our IT team to get it fixed. Either way, we’ll do something, ”Forman said.
Although brief, the experience was a success. The Hurricanes once again grabbed the attention of the hockey world with a social media hit and moved merchandise in the process. The fact that Aho and Kotkaniemi both scored goals in the win against Montreal helped matters.
“The fact that we can generate income on a random Thursday night is a good win for us,” Forman said. “It’s our brand. We are big and daring. We know we’re going to rub a lot of people the wrong way, but we’re also going to keep people entertained, especially our fans. ”