SBJ/June 18-24, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Cool: NHL signs York as its first official HVAC partner

Combining business and environmental interests, the NHL has signed York Heating and Air Conditioning to a sponsorship agreement that begins with activation this weekend for the NHL draft in Pittsburgh and continues through next year’s draft.

The deal was scheduled to be announced tomorrow in Las Vegas, ahead of Wednesday night’s NHL awards ceremony.

Discussions between the parties began last summer and were finalized during the Stanley Cup Final. Financial terms of the deal were not available.

York’s goal is to increase brand awareness during its key marketing periods: October and November for heating, and April and May for cooling.

“The awareness of the Stanley Cup playoffs in our peak selling season was particularly attractive to us,” said Steve Hoffins, York’s senior brand manager of unitary products.

Currently, 80 percent of NHL arenas utilize York, but in no case does the company have an official sponsorship with an NHL club. The new deal is the company’s first major sports buy.

“This is a great brand-building opportunity for York,” Hoffins said, “and a chance for our 2,000 platform HVAC contractors to get local promotion and increase sales.”

A subsidiary of Johnson Controls, York is an independent supplier of heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration equipment. The company worked with Van Wagner Sports to secure the NHL deal.

Through the new deal, the company will gain not only the league-level relationship, but also partnerships with six teams: Montreal, Vancouver, Philadelphia and three more teams with whom deals are being finalized.

Among the deal points, York becomes the official heating, ventilating and air conditioning partner of the NHL; it’s the first company to carry that designation for the league. York also becomes official HVAC partner of the Hockey Hall of Fame and it gets standing as a Proud Partner of the annual player draft, the 2013 NHL awards and the Winter Classic.

The deal includes media commitments to NBC Sports Network, NHL Network, NHL Social Media and NHL.com, as well.

At the Winter Classic in Michigan in January, York will be the presenting sponsor of the NHL ice truck, the refrigeration unit that will maintain the playing surface at Michigan Stadium. On its way to the site, the York ice truck will make several stops at York retail destinations.

“It’s a one-year deal, but our goal is to over-deliver,” said David Lehanski, NHL group vice president of integrated sales. “We hope, and York shares our vision, to build a long-term partnership.”

To that end, the league is working with York to create additional activation opportunities along with the natural tie-ins to NHL Green, the league’s environmental program.

“As part of the deal, we have set aside a fund for NHL Green initiatives,” said Lehanski, adding that how the fund will be used will be decided in the next few months.

Partnering with NHL Green was important to York.

“We have the same set of objectives when it comes to conservation,” Hoffins said.

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