SBD/January 3, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

NHL Sponsors Activate Around Heinz Field For Winter Classic

Sponsorship revenue for Saturday's Capitals-Penguins Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic increased 20% from '10 numbers, and league partners entertained guests in front of Heinz Field on a stretch of Art Rooney Drive that was dubbed “Spectator Plaza” on Friday and Saturday. McDonald's handed out approximately 6,500 samples of its new caramel mocha drink between the two days from a special RV that was finishing off a 34-city tour. Verizon let fans don hockey jerseys, helmets and gloves and snap photos in front of a green screen for a commemorative poster that printed in minutes. Roughly 2,000 fans visited the Reebok setup, where they could shoot pucks into a beat-up clothes dryer (a la a young Sidney Crosby) to win a free custom pair of Zigtech shoes. Title sponsor Bridgestone also had fans shooting pucks, but on a real goalie on loan from a local high school team. In addition, the fastest shot of the day (on Friday a fan clocked a 76-mph slap shot) won a set of Blizzak snow tires. Trading card company Upper Deck also snapped fan photos in front of a green screen, and in 45 seconds printed out a set of fan trading cards for approximately 1,800 visitors (Fred Dreier, SportsBusiness Journal).

STYLE WATCH: The GLOBE & MAIL's Roy MacGregor noted the Winter Classic was "at the centre of a merchandising orgy" last week. Capitals and Penguins vintage jerseys, as well as team hats, were "flooding ... the streets" in Pittsburgh, while the media was "on a feeding frenzy, from a reality series on HBO to a special Winter Classic section in USA Today" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/2). YAHOO SPORTS' Sean Leahy reported despite the "ho-hum attitudes" toward the throwback jerseys the Capitals and Penguins wore in Saturday's game, "they've been a hot seller." The NHL indicated that "over 38,000 jerseys have been sold and it's been proven as you walk along every street and look inside every restaurant around Heinz Field" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/2).

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