CCM Hockey House: Five Tips on Leveraging Private Homes for Experiential Activations

“The flair and the style of Hockey House and the sub-brand that we’ve created with it kind of screams, ‘How can we put this in a home?’”

–Abby Budgeon, Manager-Brand Activations and Events, CCM Hockey

A hockey-themed activation usually involves some kind of slapshot challenge, putting the participant in pro players’ shoes… or skates. With a shooting lane being CCM Hockey’s longtime go-to activation style at events around the U.S. and Canada, the brand decided to think outside the rink and create something completely unique. And thus, CCM Hockey House was born.

What started as a marketing stunt in Toronto two years ago has grown into a community-focused, multiday experience that came to the U.S. for the first time this winter. The second edition of CCM Hockey House took over a private home with a backyard ice rink near Boston in Canton, MA. The experience featured the brand’s latest innovations in hockey equipment and apparel and was designed to allow young players to get fitted for and test the gear themselves in a controlled, branded environment. Close to 1,000 attendees explored Hockey House over four days of tours and evening programming that included an influencer night, a retailer night and a 3-on-3 tournament.

While each event is shaped by and tailored to the host city, time of year and available resources, the team each year has improved on Hockey House’s attendee experience, operations and logistics. Abby Budgeon, manager-brand activations and events at CCM Hockey, shares her top five insights from the brand’s unconventional, but now signature, takeover.

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Set parameters for use of the house with the homeowners.

The use of a private residence location has been a huge point of pride for the participating homeowners, having their houses on display and serving as the hosts of Hockey House. The family in Canton stayed in the home throughout the activation’s build and duration over nine days and also became heavily involved in outreach to bring the local community in.

They gave CCM full access to the first floor and basement, while the upper floor of the house was closed off and remained untouched. A satellite parking lot down the street kept traffic off neighborhood roads, and a shuttle ferried participants to the residence.

“It’s definitely a challenge working with a family because you are, at the end of the day, coming in and invading their personal space for a few days,” Budgeon says. “It’s not just four days. There are three or four days of setup and a day or two afterward with teardown, so you’re really disrupting their lives and trying to be as respectful as you can toward their space and the opportunity that they provided to your brand.”

The CCM team stressed the importance of communicating expectations with the homeowners so they understand the event’s operational needs and schedule. Budgeon says it’s usually easier to pay for the family to stay in a hotel for the week, but if they prefer to stay on-site, they’re going to see a lot of changes, as 90 percent of the house’s furniture was rearranged or removed. Branded elements, rolling TVs, a/v, a stage and a dj booth were brought in, so the family had to know when to stay out of the way to let the team do its work with the promise that everything would be put back the way it was before Hockey House blew in.


CCM Hockey House has become a signature activation for the hockey gear brand, offering consumers a chance to test products and engage with the community.


Employ time slots and tour guides to manage crowd flow.

The biggest operational learning the team took away from the first year of CCM Hockey House was to run it like a museum, with two time slot groups of 30 children and their parents moving through the house at all times. During the inaugural event, the enthusiasm to get attendees out on the ice in the back yard, the activation’s main event, led to rushing and some overcrowding; 180 people could be walking through the house at one time.

“We’re a hockey brand at the end of the day, so making sure that people get into our skates and grab a stick, a helmet and gloves was kind of the focal point of it. But we didn’t allow people to experience it with an adequate amount of time and in a way that felt more natural,” Budgeon says. “A huge improvement that we made for year two was that we did it in 30-minute museum blocks where there was a tour guide responsible for making sure that every participant knew what all of the activations were on each floor.”

When consumers walked into Hockey House on the first floor, the kitchen was stocked with partner Gatorade products. A chirping clinic featured a local comedian and former NHL referee who taught the kids age-appropriate trash-talking phrases, and a barber shop, which has become a staple in Hockey House and some of CCM’s other activations, gave kids hockey flow haircuts (mullets, anyone?).

The basement showcased CCM gear with a custom locker room display and skate fittings. Two PS5 systems with NHL 24 video games and a ping pong table were available to play. The basement led to the ice rink outside, where participants got to skate with a coach for half an hour. And the tour wrapped with a pop-up shop in the garage that featured brand-new CCM gear and Hockey House merch.


Keep track of attendees with a color-code system.

Adding to the operational organization, Budgeon, a “huge visual person,” wanted to know where the participants were at each stage of the experience through the house. Enter: color-coded jerseys. The kids received jerseys that grouped them by time slot, e.g., the 10 a.m. group wore black jerseys and the 11 a.m. group wore yellow. Plus, the jerseys served as a giveaway item the participants took home.


Hockey House attendees received color-coded jerseys that grouped them by time slot, then took them home as keepsakes.


Partner with local businesses and personalities.

With the haircut offering becoming more and more popular with each showing of Hockey House, CCM has continued to pull barbers from the community to localize the event. Parents and kids who are satisfied with their flow style can return to the barber’s business and become a regular customer. And comedian Mark Riley, a Boston native, Budgeon says, was very familiar with the local hockey teams and clubs that the young fans represented, creating a personalized, relatable experience.

Partnering with its retailers was also a big win for CCM. For two months ahead of the event, the brand hung posters in stores and ran retail activations where kids could enter to win a spot in Hockey House’s 3-on-3 tournament by buying a CCM product.

“We had an easier time filling the spots in Boston than we did in Toronto, but a huge portion of it was also relying on our retailers and making them feel like they have a part in the house and that what we’re doing and investing in from this activation also gives them some ROI and visibility,” Budgeon says.


Incorporate brand ambassadors in signage and messaging.

Branded signage was key to giving Hockey House a ’90s retro “MTV Cribs” vibe, but highlighting its roster of marquee players, like the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews and John Tavares and PWHL Minnesota’s Taylor Heise, added to the fan engagement. Patrice Bergeron, a former Boston Bruins player, was featured in a lot of branding throughout the house and came to the event—a huge social media driver. An Instagram Reel of Bergeron touring Hockey House like his own “crib” garnered almost 6 million views, the highest in CCM Hockey history.

For the third iteration of the event, CCM is weighing the benefits and challenges of renting a private home and is considering potentially switching to a dedicated event space.

“The flair and the style of Hockey House and the sub-brand that we’ve created with it kind of screams, ‘How can we put this in a home?’” Budgeon says. “However, at the same time from an event standpoint, we do need to look at the logistics and the risks that we can mitigate and have the capacity to deal with if we’re in a home versus if we’re in a public event space where it is more closed off and we can lock it down safely.” Agency: Mosaic North America.

CCM House_Rink_2024

In the CCM Hockey House’s backyard ice rink, participants got to skate with a coach for 30 minutes.

Photo credit: CCM Hockey


Learn more about the localized strategy behind CCM Hockey House at the Experiential Marketing Summit at the MGM Grand Las Vegas. Abby Budgeon will be speaking at the session on “How Community-driven Experiences Can Build Long-term Brand Loyalty,” taking place Thursday, April 25, 2-2:30 p.m. Visit for details and to register.

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