The marketing agency that licenses video of the Canada – Soviet Union 1972 Summit Series on behalf of the players says the Conservative Party never asked permission to use its footage in a Stephen Harper campaign ad.
The long-form TV commercial has already made headlines in the U.S. for its uncanny similarity to a slick promotional spot for putative Republican presidential contender Tim Pawlenty.
Where the Pawlenty spot uses images of Martin Luther King and the Statue of Liberty, the Harper ad offers rolling wheat fields, snow-covered mountains and footage of Paul Henderson scoring the winning goal in Game 7 (not to be confused with his iconic series winner in Game 8 — “Here’s another shot. Right in front. They score — Henderson!”) .
Henderson is shown shooting as he falls to the ice, draped in Soviet defenders. The puck hums past Soviet goalie Vladislav Tretiak just under the crossbar. In the voice-over, the hockey-loving Conservative leader describes Canada as “the best country in the world.”
The rights to clip and all other Summit 72 products belong to the players who played on the Canadian team and their partner licensing company, Ficel Sports and Entertainment.
Horst Ficel, a partner in the firm, says that Hockey Canada granted the players the rights to all the marketing of the series in the mid-1990s. Today, a committee with player representatives decides who can license the footage.
Ficel is busy fielding requests for permission to use the clips to mark the upcoming 40th anniversary of the historic series.
But decidedly not among those requesting permission was the Conservative Party of Canada, Ficel said..
“It’s definitely not approved by me. It’s not approved by the committee.”
He says the committee is careful to avoid anything that might be considered political.
Conservative Party spokesman Ryan Sparrow said he believes all the clips in the ad are properly licensed but said he would check further to make sure. He later said in an email that he had no comment.
Salaries for hockey players in 1972 were a fraction of what they are today, and licensing of the clips and merchandise provide those on the team with a bit of extra income.