SBD/July 18, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Breitling Hopes To Turn NHLers Into Unofficial Brand Ambassadors Through “Flyers Club”

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Breitling hosted seven Swiss NHLers for a skydiving expedition
Swiss luxury watch manufacturer Breitling is hoping to turn active NHLers from its home country into a team of unofficial brand ambassadors through the formation of what it is calling the “Transatlantic Flyers Club.” The brand earlier this month hosted seven of the 10 active Swiss NHLers -- Flyers D Mark Streit, Avalanche G Reto Berra, Flames G Jonas Hiller, Predators D Roman Josi, Wild RW Nino Niederreiter, free agent D Raphael Diaz and Canucks D Yannick Weber -- at its HQs for an inaugural skydiving expedition with its air fleet. Each of the players received the new Breitling Emergency watch, which was designed for use in aviation, and a certificate commemorating the club’s formation. The group will continue to get together regularly during future offseasons to take part in various aeronautic activities and will add more Swiss NHLers as they emerge. A Breitling spokesperson explained that the brand’s goal in creating the group is to form relationships with the players with the hope that the players will spread brand awareness -- a strategy known as celebrity seeding -- and represent the company in client relations at various events. The latter has already started, as Josi, Niederreiter and Hiller attended a late-June boutique event in Zurich. Breitling said the players made a positive impression on several Breitling clients. Breitling does not pay the players to appear at these type of events. The brand has worked to build similar relationships with other Swiss sports stars, but the difference in this instance is that the NHLers are visible in the U.S., as well as in Switzerland. The spokesperson said, “We first of all think that we can take advantage that in Switzerland, but of course we also want to include them in the U.S. in the long term. I guess we can profit in both countries.”

THE WORD ON THE STREIT: Breitling noted that the brand’s relationship with Swiss players began several years ago with Streit, who has attended several company events both his home country and at the company’s boutique in N.Y. Through Streit, the brand reached out to the rest of the league’s Swiss players, individually inviting them to attend various Breitling brand events. The spokesperson said, “We will try to make it bigger and bigger by adding some other Swiss NHL hockey players. There are not a lot, but we hope that more will come.”
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