Leafs, Sponsors Adorn Boards With Mandarin Chinese Ads For CCTV Game Broadcasts
Many of the ads on the Air Canada Centre boards during the Red Wings-Maple Leafs game on Saturday were "written in Mandarin" in an attempt by MLSE to "take advantage of a new television deal" the NHL has secured, according to Susan Krashinsky of the GLOBE & MAIL. There are 87 NHL games this season "being broadcast on China’s CCTV network, 12 of them Leafs games." MLSE "does not receive any of the TV rights fees for national and international broadcast deals, but the company recognized that the NHL’s efforts to grow its presence in China could be a valuable opportunity for its advertisers." There were 11 advertisers for Saturday's game that "agreed to place Chinese-language rink boards," including Purolator, BlackBerry, Bank of Nova Scotia and Avis Budget Group, among others. Purolator's sign had "the brand name in English, and the slogan, 'Canada's Leading Express Carrier,' in Mandarin." Purolator VP/Marketing Ramsey Mansour said, "It seemed like a natural fit for us. This is a great way for us to connect with a multicultural, global audience." MLSE Chief Commercial Officer Dave Hopkinson said that the broadcasts in China are "already attracting roughly 300,000 households, on average." However, the timing "is not ideal" for CCTV, as a 7:00pm ET game is 7:00am in Beijing. So the network broadcasts the games "live on television and online" and then "re-airs the games in prime time" (GLOBE & MAIL, 3/29). In Toronto, Morgan Campbell noted MasterCard's rinkboard ad during the game featured the company's logo and the message "Hello, China," while Hero Certified Burgers' sign declares the company will "Really love Chinese ice hockey fans." The ads are "part of an increasingly aggressive strategy to transform the Leafs from Canadian phenomenon into a worldwide sports brand, a campaign that has gained momentum" since MLSE President & CEO Tim Leiweke took over last summer (TORONTO STAR, 3/29).