SBD/Issue 177/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

NHL, NHLPA Agree To Five-Year Renewal Of Bridgestone Deal

Bridgestone To Continue Title Sponsoring
Winter Classic In New Five-Year Deal

The NHL and NHLPA have renewed their partnership with Bridgestone in a five-year deal that ensures the company will remain the league's official tire and the title sponsor of the NHL Winter Classic. Bridgestone receives trademarks and media throughout the NHL season and a multitude of rights during the '11 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, including on-air broadcast rights, branded promotion on NBC, in-arena video spots, dasherboards and integration into the event logo and mark. NHL Senior VP/Corporate Sales & Marketing Keith Wachtel said, "They now have one of our jewel events. The Winter Classic was something they built equity in and saw growth in. Collectively, it made sense for us to enter a long-term agreement." The contract contemplates changes to the NHL's media contract, which ends with Versus and NBC after the '10-11 season. It includes contingencies should the NHL's broadcast partners change or the Winter Classic be moved from a daytime to a primetime broadcast. The new Bridgestone deal includes commitments to NHL clubs, as well. Most of those partnerships will be in Canada, where Bridgestone has partnered with tire retailers for dasherboard signage, Wachtel said. The Richards Group represented Bridgestone in negotiations with the NHL. The NHL has not officially named an '11 host city for the Winter Classic, but reports have placed it at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field on Jan. 1. The Capitals and Penguins reportedly would play in the outdoor game.

BRAND AWARENESS GROWING: John Baratta, President of Bridgestone Americas Consumer Replacement Tire Sales division, said "We've had about two-and-a-half years of experience with the NHL and our intent from the beginning was to get our brand awareness to grow and consumers intent to buy grow. It has in fact happened." Baratta said that in recent studies Bridgestone has asked buyers if they are NHL fans and discovered that those that are NHL fans have a higher intent to buy. Baratta: "We initially looked at the NHL for the Canadian market and we've seen tremendous business increases there in Canada, but we've also seen increases in the United States, particularly in core markets like Boston and Chicago. We want to keep the momentum going, so it made sense to renew not only the contract but the Winter Classic program."

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