Why NBC Went With the 'Quiet Intensity' of 'Under Pressure' for Stanley Cup Finals

Network Eschews Bone-Jarring Checks in Promos

By Published on .

This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure

The a-capella version of Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie might not be the kind of loud, hard-driving anthem you'd think NBC Sports would use to advertise the NHL's Stanley Cup Finals. But that's exactly what the network will use as the commercial soundtrack for the 2014 Finals between the New York Rangers and either the Chicago Blackhawks or Los Angeles Kings.

The upcoming Stanley Cup promo spots will continue to use the Freddie Mercury/David Bowie vocals from the 1981 classic rock song NBC that has employed this week to drive tune-in for the Eastern and Western Conference finals.

As soon as the Broadway Blueshirts finished off the Montreal Canadiens in Game 6 of their seven-game series Thursday night, NBC started working on new "Pressure" spots featuring the Rangers, Kings and Blackhawks -- and dropping clips of the eliminated Canadiens and Boston Bruins.

But they can't finish editing the final promos until they know whether New York will face Los Angeles or Chicago. With the Kings leading the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks 3-2 in their series as of Friday, NBC could start running the new spot as early as Saturday night if the Kings won last night's Game 6.

That would make the league and TV partner NBC happy by creating a bi-coastal Cup featuring teams from the country's two biggest TV markets. Call Rangers vs. Kings the NHL's version of the NBA's Lakers vs. Celtics.

NBC Sports' in-house marketing department is creating the campaign. The "Under Pressure" idea was a collaboration between Bill Bergofin, NBC's senior VP of marketing, Producer Ray Worsdale, Copywriter Ryan Watson and Editor Mike Gazzara.

Rather than focusing on bone-jarring checks or painted, screaming fans, NBC chose to focus on the intense pressure felt by players as they strive for the most hallowed trophy in sports. So we get to see their worried faces as they enter the arena and stand for national anthems -- followed by their moments of joy after they score goals or win games.

Said Mr. Bergofin: "There's a lot of ways to break through. One is to shout and try to generate the excitement and intensity of the playoffs. We thought going the other direction -- with a quiet intensity -- is another way to approach it that sometimes can be louder than going straight at it."

The song (voted No. 31 on VH1's Greatest Songs of the 80's) really "seems to capture what the players are feeling," he added. "We want to bring people closer in to the sports they love. We felt this song created that personal moment that fans can really relate to. Even beyond sports."

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