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Volume 22 No. 35
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Stadium Series title sponsorship helps Coors Light freeze out A-B

Slowly but surely, the Silver Bullet is putting its rivals on ice.

According to the 13th annual NHL Sponsor Breakthrough study, fielded recently for Sports Business Journal by Turnkey Sports & Entertainment, 27% of NHL fans correctly identified Coors Light as the league’s official beer. It’s the sixth straight year the brand has seen an increase in fan awareness of the sponsorship, a significant metric in a sport where the presence of its primary rival — and predecessor — still looms large.

MillerCoors secured the NHL’s U.S. beer rights halfway through the 2010-11 season, replacing Anheuser-Busch, which had held those rights since 1994. Coors Light’s streak of year-over-year increases began in 2014, which was when the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series began. 

Recognition compared to 2018

+4% points: Honda — A partner since 2008, its awareness level has doubled since 2011.

+3% points: Enterprise — It’s the brand’s highest level in the three years that we’ve tracked the category.

+3% points: Geico — Aired 54 different spots during the season, far more than any advertiser.

-4% points: Gatorade — The brand topped the survey in 2017 but has lost 19 percentage points since.

Other notable findings from the data:

■ Discover, a U.S.-only partner since 2010, saw a 7-percentage point increase to reach a brand-best 22% recognition rate. The company spent $29.8 million advertising during NHL telecasts, according to data, an increase of 25% over the the 2016-17 season and far more than it did with any other programming.

■ Pepsi was the study’s biggest mover, adding 10 percentage points to reclaim the category from Coca-Cola. Although Pepsi has been the league’s official soda since 2006, fans in five of the 13 surveys we’ve fielded mistakenly believed that Coke held that distinction.

Ad effectiveness

Turnkey draws from its database of more than 400 ads to analyze the impact of creative spots running on NHL and other sports programming.

Grade: 10 (EXCELLENT)

From the penalty box, the Bruins’ David Pastrnák orders and drinks his usual medium Dunkin’ cold brew while harassing a referee for missing calls. The BBDO-created spot increased purchase consideration among almost two-thirds of fans surveyed.


Grade: 8 (GOOD)

Hockey legend Martin Brodeur touted Enterprise’s many services, like renting a car for his all-goalie Pee-Wee team and a moving truck to transport his smelly hockey equipment. While fans found the Cannonball-created spot to be likable and engaging, the biggest success came via the prominence and distinctiveness of Enterprise’s branding.