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The NHL blends VR and real life in its Stanley Cup experience

The NHL created a VR experience to celebrate the Stanley Cup.

In celebration of the 125th anniversary of the Stanley Cup, the National Hockey League (NHL) championship trophy, the league commissioned advertising agency R&R Partners to create a VR experience that ended with the actual Stanley Cup for 91 lucky hockey fans in Pittsburgh.

That’s because Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena, home of the NHL’s Penguins, which also happen to be the 2016 Stanley Cup champion, served as the backdrop for the experience. The NHL invited fans into a repurposed shipping container outside the arena before and after a game. Fans were seated around a table with VR headsets and a tiny replica of the Cup. During the experience, they saw a virtual highlight reel, including Stanley Cup wins and clips of the Cup being hoisted overhead, R&R Partners said in a release.

While fans were immersed in the virtual experience, however, the so-called Keeper of the Cup, Phil Pritchard, emerged from behind a black curtain with the actual Cup, white gloves and all, and when fans reached out to grab a VR Stanley Cup, they realized the experience was no longer virtual.

“There were tears…screams, profanity and, of course, complete and utter shock, leaving most speechless,” R&R Partners said in the release. “The one thing that was never lacking the entire day was emotion. Proving exactly what the team at R&R set out to achieve, that the Cup holds a deep connection with each and every sports fan – and everyone has a different story of what it means to them.”

R&R Partners also developed two 60-second spots for the NHL:

The 2017 Stanley Cup Finals will begin in April.

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