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Volume 21 No. 39
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SpongeBob meets hockey with Nick’s ties to NHL Winter Classic

For NHL players, the Winter Classic is a reminder of how they learned to play hockey as kids. At this year’s edition of the tentpole event, Nickelodeon aims to elevate the experience for kids in attendance.

The network will have its own space at the Winter Classic KidZone in the NHL’s on-site activation area, The PreGame, which will include a life-sized game of air hockey. The activation space will also have table bubble air hockey games, a SpongeBob SquarePants-branded Zamboni, and a slime waterfall. It marks the first time Nickelodeon is working directly with the NHL.

The game is being held at Citi Field in New York on Jan. 1 between the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres.

Laura Lundgren, Nickelodeon Experience senior vice president of marketing and brand strategy, said the network has put an increased emphasis this past year on activating at big sporting events.

Nickelodeon will have its own space at the WinterClassic KidZone, highlighted by a life-sized air hockey game.
“To be able to take things from off of our screens and show up right in the center of the Winter Classic really elevates the experience for all the kids in attendance,” Lundgren said, noting that they’ve also worked on activations at NASCAR events and the PGA Tour’s Players Championship. The Nickelodeon Experience team plans and operates its own activations.

Elements familiar to Nickelodeon viewers will find their way into the Winter Classic, such as a virtual slime feature that will run on the video board, and a mention of the popular Nickelodeon animated series “The Loud House.” Nickelodeon will capture content around the game to share on its channels, and will have access to the venue and players on practice days.

Casey Hall, NHL group vice president of marketing, said that while the partnership is only for the 2018 Winter Classic, the league and the network will look to work together on other efforts.

“Through our research we’ve seen that those ties and bonds for the next generation of fans comes at a very young age,” Hall said. “While participation is the biggest driver, media exposure and getting to where kids can connect with our brands and players is No. 2.”

Hall declined to comment on the financial terms of the deal. He said the league will continue to look for opportunities where its players can be part of Nickelodeon content, especially alongside the NickSports brand. In July, Nashville Predator P.K. Subban presented an award at the Kids’ Choice Sports Awards, and the Los Angeles Kings’ Dustin Brown guest-hosted Nickelodeon’s sports-themed viral clip show, “Crashletes.”