SBJ/November 28-December 4, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Visa keeps Canadian marketing rights for NHL

Visa has finalized a three-year extension with the NHL and NHL Players’ Association that will see the credit card company retain its Canadian marketing rights in the payment brand credit card category. The renewal comes two weeks after the NHL renewed its partnership with Discover Card as the league’s U.S. partner in that category.

A source familiar with the deal pegged it in the low-seven-figure range. Visa will retain in-stadium branding opportunities at NHL special events in Canada, as well as media rights with TSN, TSN2 and RDS, the league’s Canadian TV partners.

“It’s another opportunity for the league to monetize the value of its Canadian rights,” said Kyle McMann, NHL vice president of partnership marketing. “Being able to withhold rights opened up the opportunity to have Discover, and now we have two companies that have the desire to bring the league to life.”

While Discover had preferential branding during NBC’s Thanksgiving Friday telecast of Boston vs. Detroit last week, Visa’s primary event activation will be the NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa.

McMann said Visa will continue to promote its “Hockey Love Hurts” campaign, which it launched this year. The campaign featured a commercial showing NHL fans anguishing over defeat and proclaimed that “sometimes, being a hockey fan hurts.” The campaign included video interviews with players expressing the tougher moments of their hockey careers.

McMann said Visa also will have its branding integrated on the league’s online-sales website in Canada. Visa joined the NHL and the NHLPA in 2008.

“Promoting the card preference is a new piece over the last three years,” McMann said. “Our direct digital business and online store were in its infancy when [Visa] originally signed on.”

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