Sunday, 17 August 2014

Kraft Foods should consider hockey card releases of CWHL players

Over two decades ago, a generation of hockey card collectors was introduced to a special collectible on the back of boxes of Kraft Dinner and Kraft Spirals. Cards featuring National Hockey League players from the Canadian-based teams were introduced in the autumn of 1989. It comprised the first year of a highly popular hockey card offering that so many collectors gladly cut out of the back of Kraft Dinner and Kraft Spirals boxes.

A trip to the grocery store became a collecting experience as collectors were eager to scrounge through backs of boxes looking for the cards needed to complete their collections. In later years, the popularity of the product resulted in Kraft expanding their card offerings to the backs of Jell-O products, along with panes of stickers inserted in Kraft Singles Processed Cheese.

At a time when sports cards reached unprecedented levels of popularity, Kraft Foods provided an affordable yet exciting product for new and experienced collectors alike.

Taking into account that Kraft Foods has served as a proud sponsor of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, it would be of tremendous benefit for fans, players and collectors alike to see the women of the CWHL featured on card releases on the backs of Kraft Dinner boxes. A staple food for so many children, Kraft Dinner is also a comfort food for grown-ups.

The chance to cut-out (or flatten an empty box) such cards featuring the likes of competitors from the Brampton Thunder, Calgary Inferno, Montreal Stars and Toronto Furies would make a bold statement about the impact of women in sport. It would not only provide the chance to bring an exciting new aspect into hockey card collecting, it would provide young girls with new role models to look up to.

In recent years, General Mills Canada is the only company featuring female athletes on its food products. Since the late 1990s, its role as a sponsor to Canada’s Olympic team has given many athletes the rare privilege of appearing on a cereal box, akin to the famous Wheaties box in the United States. Of note, women’s hockey players such as Cassie Campbell, Nancy Drolet, Geraldine Heaney and Hayley Wickenheiser have graced various General Mills cereals.

Post Cereal, which is part of the Kraft Foods family of companies, featured junior hockey players from the OHL, QMJHL and WHL on its cereal boxes over the last two years. During the 2013-14 season, there was even an online redemption code to receive free junior hockey cards via mail. With due deference, an opportunity was lost to feature female hockey players on its cereal boxes. It would be a breath of fresh air, bringing much needed awareness to the game.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of the CWHL is the fact that at least every franchise has had members of its roster compete at the Olympic level. In terms of marketability and name recognition, many of the league’s women are perfect ambassadors for the game. With the added popularity of Natalie Spooner (who has never had a hockey card produced) and Meaghan Mikkelson (whose only card was featured in 2009-10 O-Pee-Chee hockey) competed on The Amazing Race Canada, it only adds to the good reason that Kraft Foods should elevate their support of CWHL hockey with a series of cards.

For many players, the chance to gain cardboard immortality is a dream come true. Not only would it be a great personal milestone, but the chance to appear on the back of a Kraft Dinner box or on a Post Cereal box would provide a remarkable adrenaline rush while shopping. 

In addition, a marketing campaign could take place at various CWHL venues, providing cross promotion in a win-win situation. Between the Montreal Stars breast cancer fundraiser (one of the league’s signature events), contests at Calgary’s Saddledome along with week-long Clarkson Cup festivities, it could help provide the setting for a groundbreaking marketing event, not only raising the awareness of such a great partnership, but helping to strengthen the movement for equality in sport.

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