SBJ/October 29 - November 4, 2001/Marketingsponsorship

Inside the deal


THE DEAL:

Chevrolet signs as title sponsor of the Ottawa Senators' Minor Hockey Starting Line-Up program.


ESTIMATED VALUE:

$640,000-$800,000 a year, total spending by General Motors of Canada with team


LENGTH:

Three-year deal starting with 2001-02 season


DEAL MAKERS:

Tom Laurie, manager of promotions, General Motors of Canada; Rick Janes, president, MacLaren Momentum; Steven Violetta, executive vice president, Ottawa Senators and Corel Centre; Mark Bonneau, senior vice president, corporate sales, Ottawa Senators


KEY ELEMENTS:

Title sponsor of Rink of Dreams program that allows minor hockey teams to play at Corel Centre prior to Senators games

Logo on jersey given to Rink of Dreams participants

Commercial time on videotape of game given to Rink of Dreams participants

Point-of-sale promotion materials at General Motors/Chevrolet dealerships in Ottawa and surrounding areas

Back-lit sign and pillar decals in section where Rink of Dreams players sit during Senators game

Videoboard features during all Senators games

Logo on 50 rink boards provided by Senators at minor hockey arenas in eastern Ontario and western Quebec

Print ads in game program (700,000 circulation), team yearbook and 10th anniversary yearbook


BACKGROUND:

The Rink of Dreams program invites two minor hockey teams to play a 60-minute game at the Corel Centre before a Senators game. Each team must buy 100 tickets. There are two Rink of Dreams games played before every Senators game this season.

Chevrolet also sponsors the Vancouver Canucks as part of the overall naming rights deal at General Motors Place. Additional sponsors of the Minor Hockey Starting Line-Up program are Esso, Bell, CCM, Powerade, Canadian Tire and McDonald's.

MacLaren Momentum, Toronto, is the longtime agency of record for GM Canada and reviews and negotiates sponsorship proposals.


ANALYSIS:

While this program does help the Senators sell at least 400 300-level seats at every game, there's a much more significant benefit than ticket revenue. Allowing minor hockey teams to play on the Corel Centre ice is a marketing tool that can be the cornerstone for developing a lifetime affinity for the club.

This type of hands-on involvement for younger fans is so much stronger than some junior fan club or a kids-oriented Web page. It's a rare chance for a brand-name product (in this case, the Senators) to be part of an enduring memory for players.

Chevrolet is smart to go along for the ride. It works the program as a classic grassroots event, one of its many youth-oriented hockey initiatives in Canada. The deal includes exposure outside the arena and lets Chevrolet localize the program for dealers in the many towns in outlying areas.


Alan Friedman (alanf100@excite.com ) is the founder of Team Marketing Report.

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