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Volume 22 No. 11
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Tony Ponturo’s Take

Our research shows that you can never take your foot off the gas pedal when looking to reach your customer. Activation, connection and sharing are the key ingredients to brand success.

Of the 10 major NHL sponsors included in this study, only three show improvement in 2018 over 2017 — Enterprise, Coors Light and Marriott — and we see some fairly concerning declines in sponsor recall from Gatorade, Geico and Honda. Competition also has wreaked noticeable havoc; although Honda is the league’s official partner, Toyota has 13 team deals where the NHL local team consumer passion is most intense, thus eroding Honda’s recall. However, Honda still sees a strong lift in “consideration” from the general NHL fan.

Enterprise, Coors Light and Marriott have connected to consumers through smart, extensive marketing programs using their NHL association as a direct touch point. Most importantly, they have themed their NHL communication so that it was consistent with their overall brand message and created consumer experiences that were fun.

Enterprise utilizes retired star Martin Brodeur in its creative, integrating with its overall message of “we’ll pick you up” by using multiple vehicles to meet the needs of the athlete. Coors Light is linking the fan with NHL alumni experiences — meet and greets with their heroes where they can get up close and personal. Marriott focuses on youth by extending group rates for youth hockey players and their families.

Being an official sponsor is no longer enough with today’s younger consumer. Sponsors must find ways to provide this elusive consumer with exclusive experiences.

All of us who believe in sports as a vehicle to reach consumers know in today’s environment, the more we relate our communication to our customers and share our unique benefits as a sponsor, the more we will win the day.

Tony Ponturo is executive vice president of strategy for Turnkey Sports & Entertainment. Previously, he spent 26 years at Anheuser-Busch, overseeing the company’s marketing, media and sponsorship from 1991 to 2008.