SBJ/June 27 - July 3, 2011/In Depth

Hugo Boss likes the look

Madison Square Garden in midtown Manhattan. An upscale New York Knicks crowd streaming into the arena straight from work.

MADISON SQUARE GARDEN

Brand: Hugo Boss

Property: New York Knicks

Agency: None

The goal: Increase brand awareness

Why it worked: By awarding a best-dressed fan $500 in Hugo Boss merchandise, the company used its only NBA deal to boost brand awareness in its biggest U.S. market. Said Ward Simmons, vice president of marketing and public relations for Hugo Boss: “Every fan likes to win something and be involved.”
That was the perfect motivation for Hugo Boss to own the third quarter of nearly half of the Knicks games this past season with its “Best Dressed” fan activation. The promotion spotlighted fashionable fans on the team’s scoreboard and, based on crowd applause, awarded the winner a $500 Hugo Boss gift certificate.

The promotion, simple in its presentation yet powerful in its messaging, has grown into one of the team’s most popular sponsor activations and stands as a cornerstone of the company’s branding efforts at Madison Square Garden. Hugo Boss has a multiyear sponsorship with the Knicks that began this past season.

“We have been affiliated with sports and sponsorships in Europe, but since much of our business is done out of New York, the Knicks were a match for us demographically,” said Ward Simmons, vice president of marketing and public relations for Hugo Boss.

In addition to the promotion aimed at fans, Knicks players are shown on the scoreboard entering the arena before the game, and fans are asked to respond by applause in voting on which player is the best dressed. The Hugo Boss sponsorship also includes courtside LED signs during Knicks games, as well as signs outside Madison Square Garden during Fashion Week in New York City.

The “Best Dressed” activation elements increased in-arena brand exposure to young, fashion-oriented sports fans — exactly the kind of customer Hugo Boss aims to attract.

“One of the goals is to reach a corporate male demographic, and the dynamic of the Garden is that it is a well-dressed crowd, and we marry it with the promotion, which fits right in line with showcasing the brand,” said Greg Economou, executive vice president of revenue performance for Madison Square Garden Sports.

— John Lombardo
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