SBD/January 7, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

NHL Open For Business: Marketers Shifting Plans For Shortened Season

Kraft's "Hockey Goes On" campaign celebrates and rewards hockey volunteers
NHL sponsors and other marketers are “evaluating their plans for the stunted season” after the end of the lockout, according to Krashinsky & O’Kane of the GLOBE & MAIL. Kraft Foods in November cancelled its Hockeyville promotion, but the company “brought in a new partnership this year with TSN called Kraft Hockey Goes On, which will reward hockey volunteers.” With the return of the season, Kraft will be “advertising on CBC’s 'Hockey Night in Canada' -- though without the Hockeyville promotion, there will mostly be standard brand ads, not ones that are hockey-related.” The priority will be to “promote Hockey Goes On, to spend money on consumer research to find out how consumers feel about the NHL and how to approach them and, once the season is over, to compare the results of the new promotion with Hockeyville.” If the replacement program is “successful, it will determine where Kraft invests in the future.” There are “two years left in Kraft’s sponsorship agreement with the NHL.” Meanwhile, NHL corporate partner MolsonCoors is now "hauling out the NHL-branded beer merchandise that has been gathering dust, waiting for promotions that were put on hold." MolsonCoors Canada Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Ferg Devins said that the company's new ad campaign "will not specifically comment on hockey’s return or the delayed season." Elsewhere, Scotiabank's ad spending will be "redirected back to hockey games, but the company has no plans to change its ads -- it will continue with the community message, where consumer goodwill is not in question." Scotiabank Senior VP & Head of Marketing Duncan Hannay said that the bank "does not plan on shifting to a more NHL-focused messaging plan" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/7).

THE SWEATER SONG: Merchandise website BigSportsShops.com spokesperson Wayne Woodward said, “We expect NHL jerseys and gear sales to pick up right away.” CNN.com’s Emily Jane Fox reported the site's sales “fell 60% during the Christmas period from last year.” Woodward: “We won’t make up for the lost Christmas sales revenue, but there should be a nice sales uptick when players hit the ice again” (MONEY.CNN.com, 1/6).

FROM RUSSIA, NO LOVE? In Boston, Fluto Shinzawa reported equipment manufacturer reps “tried to keep business flowing during the lockout by visiting NHL clients overseas.” A source said that the reps were “not made welcome in several KHL cities” (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/6).
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