SBJ/April 14-20, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Stanley Cup will be everywhere, including doughnuts

The Stanley Cup playoffs begin this week, and activation plans from the league’s corporate sponsors range from a variety of new hockey-themed TV ads to a Stanley Cup-branded doughnut at the 3,200 Tim Hortons restaurants in Canada.

In the United States, Brian Cull, NHL group vice president of integrated marketing, said new hockey-themed TV ads are expected from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which is using St. Louis Blues winger and U.S. Olympic hero T.J. Oshie in a spot. Enterprise also will continue its Hat Trick Challenge digital fantasy game through the playoffs, with Barry Melrose serving as the spokesman.

Verizon is expected to have new creative with Alex Ovechkin, although his Washington Capitals will miss the playoffs for the first time in seven years. Bombardier has a new spot in which NHL legend Mark Messier recounts the story of his famous 1994 playoff guarantee, while touting the company’s Can-Am Spyder recreational vehicle. Can-Am also sponsors a bracket-challenge promotion. And Discover Card will continue its “Day With The Cup’’ promotion and will support that effort with new creative.

MillerCoors will stage a digital Coors Light Super Cold Fan of the Week promotion.

In addition to the Tim Hortons treat (left), fans can find Stanley Cup-embossed Oreos.
In addition to Tim Hortons’ doughnut, additional sugary snacks north of the border that will employ the Stanley Cup logo include Hershey’s annual chocolate homage to the trophy, and Mondelez’s Stanley Cup embossed Oreos. For those with different tastes, Molson has a Stanley Cup T-shirt offer in Molson Canada and Coors Light multipacks.

As for TV ad sales, a year ago, the NHL was only months removed from a lockout that had shortened its regular season from 82 to 48 games per team. This year, ad sales are “light years ahead,” according to Seth Winter, executive vice president, sales and marketing, for NBC Sports Group. Winter said between 85 percent and 90 percent of NBC’s NHL playoff inventory has been sold.

This will be the third consecutive year all NHL postseason games will be televised, airing in the United States across NBC, NBCSN, CNBC and NHL Network.

“The second-quarter scatter market looks strong, and the auto category is exceptionally healthy,” Winter said.

Auto brands advertising in the playoffs include NHL rights holder Honda along with Lexus, Mercedes, Chrysler and Ford.

The NHL corporate sponsors with top positions in the postseason are MillerCoors, Geico, Honda, Pepsi, McDonald’s, Discover, Verizon and Enterprise.

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