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SBD/February 23, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship
Labatt Plans To Pursue Legal Action Against NHL Over MillerCoors/Molson Coors Deal
Published February 23, 2011
TAKING IT TO THE COURTS: Angelakos said that a "lawsuit will be filed in Toronto in the near future." Angelakos: "From our standpoint, nothing went wrong. We completed legally binding terms of renewal for our sponsorship agreement with the NHL" (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/23). But NHL COO John Collins today said, "We completely disagree with their assertion that we had a deal for next year" (Bloomberg TV, 2/23). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's David Kesmodel notes the dispute is the latest involving A-B InBev, the "world's largest beer maker by sales, and a major sports league." The brewer's U.S. unit sued MLB Properties in November, "claiming that it reneged on a multiyear renewal of sponsorship rights and demanded 'exponentially higher' fees." A-B InBev "later dropped the suit after the two sides reached a new pact to continue Budweiser's role as the league's official beer" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/23).
MONSTER DEAL: Collins said the MillerCoors/Molson Coors sponsorship is a "monster deal." Collins: "They're going to have major position across all of our events -- both our existing events as well as a lot of new ones that we hope to create." Perkins added, "What this will allow us to do is to take the brand to a whole new level. It enables us to really take hockey to our beer drinkers and to fans, and to provide hockey experiences behind the brand." The CP's Chris Johnston noted Collins "joined the NHL in August 2008 after holding a number of positions within the NFL," and he has "helped develop the league's current strategy and believes it is starting to pay off." Collins: "It's created a really easy path for corporate partners and advertisers to spend money against hockey. In this environment, that's critical -- to be able to attract the blue-chip top advertisers and get them to spend their marketing and advertising dollars on your sport." Johnston wrote business "has been very good for the NHL," as the league had "already eclipsed last year's number of sponsor commitments by the midpoint of this season" (CP, 2/22). In N.Y., Richard Sandomir notes the league indicated that its sponsorship revenue grew 32% from the '08-09 season to the '09-10 season. Since this season began, the NHL "has renewed deals with Bridgestone, Cisco Systems and McDonald's and signed new ones with Canadian Tire, Tim Hortons, BlackBerry, Discover (in the United States) and Hershey's (in Canada)." But the new beer deal is "by far the biggest." The money from MillerCoors and Molson Coors "will be split among a rights fee to the league, spending with teams, TV advertising and the value of the breweries' promotional campaigns" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/23).
IMPACT ON TV RIGHTS: Collins was asked if the league’s new beer deal could positively affect the next television rights deal for the league. He said the league's TV partners "want to know that people are going to spend money in advertising.” Collins: “Advertising is kind of the fuel that drives the entire sports business and certainly drives rights fees, so a deal of this size and a commitment from a company like (MillerCoors) is an important signal that business has got a lot of momentum and a lot of upside going forward" (Bloomberg TV, 2/23).