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When it comes to identifying the official credit card of the NHL, more fans go with Visa.
Visa was correctly selected by 27 percent of NHL fans as the league’s credit card partner, passing Gatorade as the brand most likely to be identified with the league, according to an annual survey completed this month for SportsBusiness Journal by Turnkey Sports & Entertainment. The response count for Visa was 31 percent among avid NHL fans and 22.5 percent among casual NHL fans. Both marks were higher than what was posted in 2009.
The Foster City, Calif.-based company is a league sponsor in Canada only and has no U.S. team-level deals, but the brand saw a 10 percentage-point increase in its overall awareness level compared with last year’s survey. The brand’s Morgan Freeman-narrated 30-second commercial that has run during the past two Stanley Cup Finals paying tribute to hockey fans as part of its “More People Go with Visa” campaign has resonated well with fans. Hockey fans on both sides of the border may also have connected Visa to hockey after seeing the brand’s multiple “Go World” spots that aired during Winter Olympics hockey matchups.
Visa uses its NHL relationship, which also includes the NHL Players’ Association, to promote NHL-themed rewards programs with cardholders and with league partner Scotiabank. Visa’s partnership runs through the 2010-11 season.
Among other companies, awareness levels for several sponsors saw larger-than-usual declines among avid fans, although most of those companies had seen similar positive spikes during the 2008-09 season. The lack of an All-Star Game, in favor of NHL players competing at the Olympics, took away this season what in 2009 was one of the higher-profile opportunities for league sponsors to activate and gain fan recognition.
McDonald’s was a league-level partner in Canada only from 1993 to 2008 before adding U.S. rights to its portfolio as well. Under that new two-season deal, the quick-service restaurant has had an ad presence on NBC, Versus, NHL Network and NHL.com. The company has deals with only five clubs, but that’s about half of what it had in previous seasons, and although its awareness mark declined among avid fans in 2010, the recognition level is still higher than what the company saw in 2008.
Verizon saw a 6.6 percentage-point decline among avid fans but a 4.1 percentage-point increase among casual fans, a nearly identical variance as McDonald’s.
Although Honda’s recognition score as an NHL sponsor declined, fans are more than twice as likely now as they were prior to the 2007-08 season to identify the automaker as an official league sponsor. Honda signed a three-year deal before the 2008-09 season replacing Chrysler’s Dodge brand as the league’s official vehicle. The brand’s surge in recognition in our 2009 survey also may have been partially fueled by the Anaheim Ducks’ playoff run that year. Honda has a 15-year, $60.45 million naming-rights deal in Anaheim, and the Ducks’ had six nationally televised home playoff games at Honda Center during the 2008-09 postseason.
Is it important to you to be aware of which companies are official sponsors of the NHL?AVIDCASUAL201020092008201020092008 Yes47.30%61.60%51.60%37.50%31.10%34.80% No52.70%38.40%48.40%62.50%68.90%65.20% Are you more or less likely to regularly consume a product/service if that product/service is an official sponsor of the NHL?201020092008201020092008 More likely43.40%51.60%44.50%33.00%31.90%35.20% Unaffected or less likely56.70%48.40%55.50%67.00%68.10%64.80% Are you more or less likely to recommend a product/service to a friend or family member if that product/service is an official sponsor of the NHL?201020092008201020092008 More likely41.90%52.20%47.10%34.50%34.30%37.60% Unaffected or less likely58.10%47.90%52.90%65.50%65.70%62.40% Are you more or less likely to consciously support a company by purchasing its products/services if the company is an official sponsor of the NHL?201020092008201020092008 More likely39.40%NANA33.50%NANA Unaffected or less likely60.60%NANA66.50%NANA NA: Not applicable; question was not asked in annual survey.
Turnkey Sports & Entertainment, through its Turnkey Intelligence operation, conducted national consumer research surveys among a sample of 403 members of the Greenfield Online Omnibus panel who were at least 18 years old.
This year’s survey was conducted May 24-June 4, a period that coincided with the Stanley Cup Final. Last year’s survey ran for a similar two-week period.
Respondents were screened and analyzed based on their avidity levels. Fans categorized as “avid” were those who responded “4” or “5” to the question “How big a fan are you of the NHL?” and claimed to “look up news, scores and standings several times a week or more often,” “watch/listen/attend at least 10 games per season” and “have a favorite team.” Fans categorized as “casual” responded “3” to the same initial question, then claimed to “look up news, scores and standings several times a month or more often,” “watch/listen/attend at least 3 games per season” and “have a favorite team.”
The percentage responses listed have been rounded. The margin of error for each survey is +/- 4 percent.
How often do you seek out NHL news, scores, standings, etc.?
WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING IS AN OFFICIAL SPONSOR OF THE NHL?AVIDCASUAL QUICK-SERVICE RESTAURANT20102009CHANGE20102009CHANGE McDonald’s16.30%23.20%-6.916.00%11.40%4.6 Subway12.30%6.50%5.88.00%4.60%3.4 Burger King5.90%9.30%-3.44.50%8.20%-3.7 KFC4.90%2.80%2.24.00%3.60%0.4 I’m not sure50.70%40.70%1058.00%59.10%-1.1 McDonald’s, a Canadian sponsor of the league since 1993, extended rights into the United States prior to the 2009 Winter Classic in its hometown Chicago and maintained that league-level involvement through the 2009-10 season. The company did cut its number of team-level deals this past season to five, less than half of what it had during 2008-09, but maintains its relationships with USA Hockey, nine minor league teams and 20 junior hockey clubs. Subway got exposure by sponsoring the intermission reports on NBC’s Game of the Week (which averaged 1.32 million viewers this season), but the brand may have received the most buzz for its virtual ads on the glass behind the nets for several MSG game telecasts. The ads first appeared at the end of the 2008-09 season. SOFT DRINK20102009CHANGE20102009CHANGE Coca-Cola26.10%33.50%-7.418.50%23.60%-5.1 Pepsi21.20%26.90%-5.716.50%16.40%0.1 Mountain Dew4.90%3.80%1.12.50%5.90%-3.4 Dr Pepper2.50%5.20%-2.74.00%5.50%-1.5 I’m not sure40.40%27.40%1351.00%45.90%5.1 Pepsi had steadily gained share of category awareness in its first three years after replacing Coca-Cola as the league’s official soda in 2006, but it saw an overall decline this past season. Pepsi brands are the official sponsors of 11 NHL teams and the NHL Players’ Association. The company reprised its Bring the Cup Home contest, in which the winner got the Stanley Cup delivered by Mark Messier, and it distributed 1 million limited-edition Winter Classic-themed cans of Pepsi Max in the New England market leading up to the Boston-Philadelphia Winter Classic game at Fenway Park. Coca-Cola, meanwhile, sponsors five NHL clubs and nine minor league hockey teams. While its awareness level among avid fans, in particular, dropped from last year, the 2010 Coke mark is still higher than what was posted among avid fans for the brand in 2008 and 2007. SPORTS/ENERGY DRINK20102009CHANGE20102009CHANGE Gatorade30.50%30.50%021.50%24.60%-3.1 Powerade6.90%9.40%-2.58.50%9.60%-1.1 Red Bull9.40%9.80%-0.45.50%5.50%0 Monster4.40%6.10%-1.74.50%5.90%-1.4 I’m not sure41.90%30.10%11.853.50%46.80%6.7 Gatorade’s recognition number among casual fans fell to its lowest level since we began measuring sponsor awareness in 2007. The good news for the Pepsi-owned brand may be that the 4.5 percentage-point drop among avid fans during that same time period may have flattened, and no competing brand has stepped in to make any significant gains in market share. Gatorade sponsors the league and all 30 teams as well as the NHLPA. BEER20102009CHANGE20102009CHANGE Anheuser-Busch / Bud Light23.60%34.90%-11.319.50%22.70%-3.2 Miller11.30%9.00%2.310.00%15.90%-5.9 Coors10.80%14.10%-3.37.00%14.70%-7.7 Labatt8.90%9.80%-0.96.50%6.40%0.1 I’m not sure39.90%22.80%17.149.00%33.50%15.5 Anheuser-Busch this past season gave its Bud Light brand a bigger platform across the league’s cable and digital media landscape. Bud Light continued its presenting sponsorship of “The Hockey Show” on NHL Network Online, had an on-pack offer for NHL Vintage Hockey T-shirts and offered a Facebook-driven “make your own trading card” promotion. A-B has deals for Bud Light with 20 of the league’s 24 U.S. teams, a total that is unchanged from 2008-09. Labatt is the official beer in Canada. It also has team-level deals with Pittsburgh and Buffalo and, through a deal with A-B, its former parent company, gave away NHL Vintage Hockey T-shirts with the purchase of a 24-can pack of Bud Light in Canada. Also during the season, Labatt renewed its sponsorship of USA Hockey, a partnership that dates to 2003. CREDIT CARD20102009CHANGE20102009CHANGE Visa31.00%18.90%12.122.50%15.40%7.1 MasterCard12.30%15.10%-2.88.50%12.60%-4.1 American Express8.40%16.50%-8.17.50%13.50%-6 I’m not sure42.90%40.60%2.356.00%50.70%5.3 In the second year of a three-year Canada-only agreement, Visa saw its awareness numbers soar this past season fueled in part by a global marketing campaign. Those company marketing efforts included the Go World campaign during the Vancouver Olympics, an event for which the NHL paused its regular season but drew residual buzz thanks to the play of the U.S. and Canadian hockey teams, which met in the gold-medal game, along with strong competition from other NHL players on their respective national teams. Additional NHL-related efforts in Canada included a promotion through which fans who used a Visa card at Old Navy stores could enter a contest to win a trip for two to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final. Meanwhile, MasterCard, which ended its league affiliation following the 2007-08 season, maintains five team-level agreements and has an endorsement deal with Boston Bruins legend Bobby Orr. AUTOMOTIVE20102009CHANGE20102009CHANGE Ford15.80%13.10%2.713.50%9.20%4.3 General Motors14.30%13.10%1.211.00%11.00%0 Toyota8.40%4.70%3.78.00%5.50%2.5 Honda7.90%19.60%-11.76.00%9.20%-3.2 Chrysler/Dodge3.90%8.90%-56.50%6.90%-0.4 I’m not sure46.30%34.60%11.754.00%55.50%-1.5 Honda replaced Chrysler’s Dodge brand at the beginning of the 2008-09 season as the league’s official automobile and saw its recognition numbers increase fourfold over its first season. It gave back much of that gain this past season. Among the differences: Honda in 2009 was highly visible during the league’s All-Star Weekend; there was no All-Star Game in 2010, in favor of the Winter Olympics. The brand’s most visible activation this year was a commercial promoting the Pilot SUV and Ridgeline truck featuring hall of famer Pat LaFontaine and fellow former NHLers Mike Richter and Neal Broten creating an outdoor rink for a game of pond hockey. Toyota increased its number of NHL team-level deals from seven to 10, while GM (five team deals), Ford (two) and Chrysler (two) saw little change in their hockey business. INSURANCE20102009CHANGE20102009CHANGE Geico19.20%20.60%-1.413.00%18.90%-5.9 Allstate11.30%14.50%-3.27.50%8.30%-0.8 State Farm7.90%5.10%2.88.00%3.20%4.8 I’m not sure50.20%42.50%7.754.50%54.80%-0.3 Geico became the league’s official insurer heading into the Winter Classic with a deal that included exposure via the NHL Network and NHL.com along with signage in two-thirds of league’s U.S. venues. It was the company’s first league-level sports partnership, although it also has deals with seven of the league’s 24 U.S. clubs. State Farm more than doubled its number of team-level deals, to 18 from eight. WIRELESS SERVICE20102009CHANGE20102009CHANGE Verizon20.20%26.80%-6.616.50%12.40%4.1 AT&T15.80%13.20%2.613.50%15.70%-2.2 T-Mobile9.40%8.00%1.46.00%6.50%-0.5 Sprint4.90%11.30%-6.46.50%9.70%-3.2 I’m not sure45.30%33.80%11.551.00%48.40%2.6 Verizon rolled out three NHL-themed commercials this past season, and the company says it’s seen gains toward its primary activation goal with the league: getting customers to use their Verizon mobile devices to access NHL information. Verizon has been the league’s U.S telecommunications partner since 2000, has five team-level deals and has naming rights at the Washington Capitals’ Verizon Center. AT&T maintained its portfolio of seven NHL club partnerships. SHIPPING SERVICE20102009CHANGE20102009CHANGE NONE FedEx26.60%34.10%-7.525.00%30.40%-5.4 UPS16.30%15.00%1.313.50%11.50%2 I’m not sure45.30%34.60%10.754.00%50.70%3.3 FedEx leads in awareness totals but UPS saw gains this past season in a category that’s open at the league level. For its part, UPS sponsors six clubs (up from five in 2008-09). In addition, the league, UPS and NHL partner U.S. Army held a ceremony during the Stanley Cup Final at the NHL Powered by Reebok Store in New York to announce the donation of official NHL-licensed street hockey equipment and apparel to help launch the NHL Street Hockey League at Camp Victory in Baghdad. BANK20102009CHANGE20102009CHANGE Bank of America17.20%26.60%-9.415.50%16.40%-0.9 Citibank8.90%13.10%-4.27.00%11.20%-4.2 Wells Fargo3.00%2.80%0.26.50%2.30%4.2 Scotiabank1.50%NANA2.50%NANA I’m not sure54.70%43.50%11.258.50%59.80%-1.3 Scotiabank, which has Canadian-only banking rights, continued its Celebration of Hockey Tour throughout the 2009-10 regular season by hosting the Stanley Cup in 15 communities across Canada. The bank also has naming rights to Scotiabank Place, home of the Ottawa Senators. Bank of America had been an official league sponsor through its 2006 acquisition of MBNA but did not continue that deal for 2009-10. HOTEL20102009CHANGE20102009CHANGE Marriott10.80%8.90%1.98.00%7.90%0.1 Holiday Inn8.40%11.20%-2.87.50%9.40%-1.9 Hilton6.90%3.30%3.65.00%6.10%-1.1 Hyatt5.40%3.30%2.16.00%2.80%3.2 Sheraton4.90%0.90%43.00%0.90%2.1 I’m not sure56.20%58.40%-2.261.50%65.40%-3.9 Starwood Hotels, which includes the Sheraton brand of hotels, rejoined the league’s sponsor roster this season. The hotel category had been vacant since Starwood left after the 2005-06 season. Sheraton saw an immediate 4-point increase in recognition numbers among avid fans. AIRLINE20102009CHANGE20102009CHANGE NONE Southwest13.80%11.20%2.68.50%9.40%-0.9 American9.40%15.00%-5.69.50%10.30%-0.8 Delta7.90%11.70%-3.87.50%9.40%-1.9 United6.40%4.70%1.77.00%1.40%5.6 I’m not sure50.70%38.80%11.955.00%58.40%-3.4 The league does not have an official airline sponsor, but Southwest Airlines partnered with the Dallas Stars, who play in American Airlines Center, for the 2010 Southwest Airlines Dallas Stars Flyaway Sweepstakes. The promotion offered a chance to see the Stars play in Phoenix, another Southwest destination. Southwest also has team deals with Nashville, Philadelphia, San Jose and Washington. NA: Not available; company was not listed in the survey field for polling responses in 2009.