SBD/September 21, 2012/Franchises

AHL Crunch Change Marketing Approach, As A Model Replaces Players On Billboards

The billboard features model Carol Grow with a message, "From Tampa, with love"
The AHL Syracuse Crunch to promote its affiliation with the Lightning have a new billboard near I-690 featuring model Carol Grow "lounging atop a hockey goal wearing a clingy Syracuse Crunch T-shirt, tight boy shorts and strappy, black stilettos," according to Lindsay Kramer of the Syracuse POST-STANDARD. To the left of Grow is "a palm tree and an inscription that reads, 'From Tampa, with love.'" The marketing pitch "was the idea" of Crunch Owner Howard Dolgon. He said, "When you do billboards, you want to do things that will attract attention to your brand. This is going to get people's attention." Grow will be "featured on other upcoming team billboards, as well as on a poster giveaway during the season." Dolgon said that he has "received a lot of feedback" about the billboard since it was unveiled Monday, and "none of it complained that the campaign is too revealing." He said, "It's a classy-looking picture. It draws attention to what we're doing, and in a first-class manner." The team has previously "featured returning players in ads" (SYRACUSE.com, 9/19).

LOCKOUT A MIXED BLESSING FOR AHL: ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun noted the NHL lockout is a "mixed blessing" for the AHL, but the league is "ready to step up if called upon this fall." The league has a "chance to own the stage while the big show is in a labor impasse," which has historically been a "boost to the AHL." However, the AHL and NHL are "solid partners." Attendance rose 6.5% from '03-04 to '04-05 for the AHL; both the "average and overall attendance figures are still the highest ever." A similar pattern "can be expected if an NHL lockout drags into the fall and winter." With "social media and new media platforms, who knows how much more the AHL can gain." But AHL President & CEO David Andrews said, "While we might see a short-term gain for a month or two months or whatever the period of time is, ultimately we all get floated by the success of the National Hockey League" (ESPN.com, 9/19).
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