Sitting with their web design team, co-chairs Barry Forth and Leslie Watson were trying to come up with colors and a theme for their Kraft Hockeyville bid and campaign. They decided to stick with yellow and blue, the colors of their minor hockey association teams, the Dundas Blues. It was at that point that Forth came up with what turned into a brilliant idea.
"It just kind of dawned on me that the most recognizable Kraft product is Kraft Dinner, in my mind the most recognizable Kraft product, and it happens to be the same color scheme as the (town hockey teams') blue and yellow," said Forth. "I thought of the slogan 'Gotta be KD,' and I thought, why don't we do 'Gotta be Dundas.' Right away it was perfect, and anybody we told it to loved it. It got to the point where our minor hockey teams were using that as a chant before games."
"We were quite pleased," said Julian Franklin, a Senior Consumer Promotions Manager at Kraft Canada. "We were pleasantly surprised they would take the opportunity to integrate the KD logo into their campaign. ... We obviously wanted the best community to win, we weren't picking favorites, but we saw they used 'Gotta be Dundas,' we were like 'Oh, good for them,' and it worked out."
Franklin noted that the Dundas organizing committee's use of the slogan and ability to market themselves made them a very unique group compared to past competitors. They also happen to stand out in another way.
"Dundas is actually the first community located close to an urban area that we have had in the first five years of the program," Franklin said.
Despite the fact that Dundas is part of the larger city of Hamilton, Franklin doesn't feel this will change anything.
"Even though they're located close to Hamilton or an urban center, they're still setting up the same amount of fervor, passion and excitement that a small, rural community would have," Franklin said. "We expect to have a fantastic showing -- and if anything, it could be even bigger as they're drawing from the greater Hamilton area and they've got the support from the city of Hamilton and the other communities in and around the area."
Whether the 2010 installment of Kraft Hockeyville draws a bigger turnout or not, the competition definitely has grown over the last five years. In 2006 there were 450 entries when Salmon River, N.S., took home the prize. Last year, when Terrace, B.C., won, there were 7,138 entries. The number of entries this year jumped to 12,500.
"Canadian communities have embraced Kraft Hockeyville wholeheartedly," Franklin said. "Canadians themselves are becoming more aware of the property."
As a sign of the increased popularity, a couple of changes were made to this year's competition. Kraft added two extra wild-card spots to go from a top 10 to a top 12 and went to a live, election-night format where cameras were present in all five of the top communities to broadcast and announce the winner.
The competition has become one of most important to Kraft over the past five years, and with the help of the NHL, the NHLPA and CBC, they're striving to make it bigger and better.
"We love the program here. We see the impact it has on communities. We see the impact it has internally, with our office, with our employees, with our sales force. There's a huge sense of pride, company pride, from this program," Franklin said. "From a Kraft perspective, it drives us to keep it going and make it better every year. From a partner perspective, it's a unique property because we are equal partners with the NHL, the NHLPA and the CBC in making this happen. When you have four partners that are all focused on making it better, it makes it easier to keep it going year to year."
From the feedback and the numerous letters, Franklin has seen the power that Kraft Hockeyville has had on its participating communities -- and not just on the winners.
"Even communities that don't win, which I think is almost as important that those that do, they still tell us, 'I never thought entering a contest would bring my community together like this,' or, 'You know, people I never talk to or neighbors I never really knew, we came together because we really wanted to make this happen for our local arena, for our community.'"
All thanks to some inspiration from a box of KD.
Follow Magalie Lafrenière on Twitter at: @NHLmagalie