SBJ/January 23-29, 2012/Events and Attractions

NHL All-Star Game takes on Canadian theme

Befitting an event in the capital city of hockey’s home, Ottawa’s coming NHL All-Star Game is a very Canadian affair. From a weekend opening procession of 19 NHL trophies along the Rideau Canal with “Timbits” youth hockey players named after title sponsor Tim Hortons’ doughnut holes, to the Molson Canadian-named fantasy draft, it all connects to Canada’s historic heritage with the game.

Tim Hortons has access to All-Star Game imagery, as well as on-ice branding. 
As title sponsor, Tim Hortons gets on-ice branding and dasherboard signage and has All-Star Game imagery at many of its 3,200 locations, including videos of the “Stars Are Lighting Up Ottawa” tune-in spots, menu boards, posters and tray liners. Locations in and around Ottawa will have employees wearing All-Star garb.

“Hortons has really grabbed ahold of this,” said Kyle McMann, the league’s vice president of partnership marketing.
Canadian NHL sponsor Energizer Batteries is having a portion of the Rideau Canal set aside for a night skate in which thousands wearing Energizer-powered headlamps will stage a 5K skate. After sundown, the NHL will project images of games and players onto the Canadian Parliament buildings and around the canal.

Scotiabank, which holds league banking rights in Canada and naming rights to the arena that will host the game, also is title sponsor of the weekend-long Fan Fair at the Ottawa Convention Centre.

During the Molson-sponsored fantasy draft, team captains Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson and Boston’s Zdeno Chara will choose the players, from rosters selected by the fan vote, that will compete in Sunday’s game. Highlighting the difference between the 2011 All-Star Game in Raleigh and this year’s in Ottawa, Brian Jennings, the NHL’s executive vice president of marketing, noted the 66 percent increase in online ballots cast to 24 million. Jennings attributed the increase to sponsorship and promotion by Sirius XM, and increased marketing by NHL clubs along with larger social media efforts and promotion by broadcast rights holders.

League sponsor Canadian Tire is also leveraging its retail locations by selling Fan Fair tickets, along with point of sale ads supporting the weekend with a junior skills contest that began in 15 markets and will hold its national finals on Saturday on the canal.

Molson Canadian title sponsors the Skills Competition, but the event is cluttered with various sponsor names on the individual events, like the Allstate Insurance Breakaway Challenge, the Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater, the Tim Hortons Shootout, the Canadian Tire Accuracy Shooting, and Gatorade’s G-Series Challenge Relay.

There will be an increase in exposure around the event for U.S. viewers, as the recently rebranded NBC Sports Network will have seven hours of shoulder programming around the All-Star Game, along with the game itself.

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