Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Matt Cooke launches PR campaign for Lady Byng consideration

"For me? You shouldn't have!"
Blair Charbonneau, Hockey Net

PITTSBURGH—Penguins’ player Matt Cooke has plastered major cities across North America with an extensive Public Relations campaign positioning him as a leading candidate for this year’s Lady Byng trophy.

Traditionally awarded to the NHL’s most gentlemanly player, the Lady Byng prize has eluded Cooke in all of his twelve seasons. The Belleville native says after waiting patiently for the honour never to come, it’s time he pursued his due more aggressively.
The “Cooke re-brand” centers around such slogans as, “Think about the guys I didn’t hit,” and “Keep your head up for kindness!”

An effort three months in the making, Cooke has hired a prestigious New York PR firm and a team of spin doctors to re-mold his notorious public image. The all-out media blitz includes press releases, T.V. and radio ads, bus posters and plenty of online content.

One such commercial features an anxious Marc Savard testifying to the generosity of Cooke’s character, proclaiming, “Matt never gave me a concussion, I fell down some stairs before the game,” while another shows Cooke assisting an elderly woman to cross the street before she graciously turns back to present him with the Lady Byng hardware.

And not to mention the massive billboards, where—in the downtown core of Philadelphia, for example—every morning citizens wake up to a sunlit, smiling Cooke greeting Philadelphians with phrases like, “Good morning my brothers,” and “Beautiful day to win the Lady Byng.”

On the social media front, a new Matt Cooke facebook fan page is being heavily promoted and Cooke is especially visible on his Twitter account, posting frequent updates, “Just ordered new super-soft Nerf elbow-pads,” and “Giving out free visors before tonight’s game!“ to name a few. He's also displayed an affinity for emoticons, thus far.

To coincide with the advertising, is a Matt Cooke lobby group made up of fourteen-year-old girls with Tumblr accounts. The “Cooke-oos” have been following the Penguins across the continent, supporting the cause by brandishing homemade signs, T-shirts, and pins that read “Cooke knows how to treat a lady” and “Marty Louis is no Saint.”

“Those girls are no joke,” revealed Flyers forward Scott Hartnell, “I walked past them and called Cooke a prick then they spat on me, pulled my hair and said I was too fat to ever win the Lady Byng. I had to kick my way out, it was like playing the Habs.”

Even Cooke's Wikipedia page is receiving a facelift, as he encourages his many fans to help rid the entry of unjust slander against him. Byng rivals Marty St. Louis and Pavel Datsyuk have launched an all out offensive, editing his entry to include falsehoods such as "His playing style has earned him a reputation of being a "pest" and he is therefore known for his ability to aggravate opponents." Cooke's fans have sworn to continue to defend his tarnished reputation, and sent the following screen-capture of his Wikipedia page.
Click to enlarge

Expect the Cooke saturation to only pick up steam in the weeks to come.

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