Needless to say, NHL fans are not happy about the lockout. Social media sites and the blogosphere are abuzz with a good deal of distaste towards the league for its second lockout in seven years. And of course, bad PR is bad for business. So, the NHL has hired Frank Luntz to improve their image and try and stay in the good graces of fans whose patience is wearing thin in the face of cancelled games.
So, who is Frank Luntz? Well, according to an article from Deadspin, he’s the head of Luntz Global, a market research firm that specializes in spin doctoring (their slogan is apparently “It’s not what you say, its what they hear”). Luntz is also one of the chief strategists for the Republican party. And now he’s doing the NHL’s dirty work to make fans place the blame on the players and the players union for the work stoppage.
The Deadspin piece details how Luntz worked with focus groups. And after he was done with them, the general feeling was that the members of the groups had eased their opinion of the NHL and the owners.
As the research session came to an end, the group was asked to respond again to the first question from their packets. On a scale of 1 to 10, whom did they side with, players or management? One participant gauged the mood in the room, and spoke with his fellow guinea pigs afterward.
“No question,” he says. “The group had a much better opinion of the owners.”
NHL fans have long aimed their blame at commissioner Gary Bettman and the team owners, and the league wants to try and salvage whatever they can of their image….an image that tarnishes more and more every day without an end to the lockout. But if the NHL can use Luntz’ strategies on a widespread level, fans may begin to place their blame elsewhere. If they haven’t given up on locked-out hockey altogether by then.
By Arun Morace