Tampa-based Bluetooth speaker manufacturer Malektronic's astronaut mascot, which has appeared on the glass at Lightning games, has transfixed hockey fans throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The man outfitted in an astronaut suit has been captured on game broadcasts, featured on several ESPN highlight segments and become something of a viral sensation. A single video from last Wednesday night’s Game 3 against the Canadiens that shows the astronaut taunting G Carey Price, posted by the NHL on Facebook, has received more than 1.1 million views. Malektronic, a first-year partner of the Lightning as part of a low-to-mid six-figure deal, introduced the astronaut at Lightning games toward the end of the regular season. With the NHL controlling all TV-visible dasher board space for league-level partners during the playoffs as part of its deal with NBC, the mascot has allowed Malektronic to maintain an on-camera presence during the postseason. While the astronaut does not carry any Malektronic branding -- it does wear the brand’s Rocket speaker attached to its suit -- CEO Ben Malek believes it can still draw attention to the company. Malek: “We don’t want it to be too commercial. I think it’s one of those viral things. … People will start asking questions, and that’s when it will come more to light. I think it’s more of an organic growth rather than being a straight-out ad.” The Lightning have pointed curious commenters on social media toward the company.
A WHOLE NEW WORLD: Malektronic’s sponsorship of the Lightning is its initial venture into sports marketing, and the team followed it up by signing a mid-season deal with the Islanders. Malek said that pact came at a fraction of the investment for the Lightning deal, partly due to the fact that it was a partial-season arrangement. The company produced team-branded speakers for both clubs, which Malek said were more popular in Tampa than on Long Island. Both Malek and Lightning Senior VP/Partnership Development & Activation Bill Abercrombie said the two sides are nearing a renewal of their partnership, with Malek touting the benefits of working with a club in the company’s home market. He said that while he has had some discussions about renewing the Islanders partnership, the higher price point that will likely come with the team’s move to Brooklyn could be a deterrent. He added that the brand is exploring additional sports marketing opportunities, as other teams from both the NHL and other leagues have reached out.