Rallying a Community: How Dundas Won Kraft Hockeyville

MH3 —  June 13, 2011

At one of the final sessions of the 2011 Canadian Sponsorship Forum, Barry Forth shared the story of how he helped Dundas, Ontario, win the title of Kraft Hockeyville in 2010. The incredible creativity and collaboration demonstrated by Barry and the rest of the committee provided inspirational and highly useful tips for anyone planning a campaign to mobilize a community.

Laying the groundwork began by connecting with key contacts, including local businesses, arena users, the City of Hamilton, Tourism Hamilton, local politicians and, most importantly, the chair of the winning Kraft Hockeyville 2009 bid from Terrace, B.C. Barry noted that this connection was one of the most valuable, as the lessons he learned from the organizer – who had led Hockeyville campaigns for three years and had finished first, second or fourth each year – helped guide the campaign in Dundas.

Barry laid out what he has dubbed the Four E’s of community-mobilizing campaigns:

  • Engage: Begin with the end in mind
  • Excite: Create events with wow factor
  • Educate: Once they’re listening, tell them what they need to do
  • Endure: Keep something in your back pocket to make it last

Building the campaign around a focus on making it about the kids and having fun, Barry and the rest of the committee utilized a number of creative tactics. To spread the word, they used both social and traditional media channels, including a whopping 75 radio interviews with Barry from November to April. They ordered brightly-coloured, eye-catching jerseys and hats, and held fun, sponsor-driven events, like having the Hamilton Bulldogs come to play in Dundas. As the list of top cities grew narrower, he capitalized on the fact that Dundas was the only city in Southern Ontario, and then Ontario, still in consideration, leveraging the province’s large population and voting power.

For Barry, the “Eureka” moment that turned the whole campaign around was when he realized that a local hockey team, the Dundas Blues, had the same colours as Kraft’s flagship product, Kraft Dinner. This led to the creation of the “Gotta Be Dundas” logo, which leveraged KD’s equity and made Dundas’ connection to Kraft very clear. Kraft Dinner then played an important, and often fun, role in Dundas’ campaign, using KD boxes as everything from noisemakers to hockey pucks. A local musician even created an official “Gotta Be Dundas” song, keeping with Barry’s goal of a fun and engaging campaign.

On April 3, 2010, the hard work of Barry and the rest of the committee paid off when Dundas was named Kraft Hockeyville, winning 1.1 million votes. But the story didn’t end there. The five-month campaign then turned into an 11-month journey sorting out logistics and creating a Gotta Be Dundas legacy project to raise an additional $400,000.

For more insights from Barry, follow him on Twitter – @BarryForth.