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Volume 22 No. 43
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Tony’s Take: NHL sponsorship

Tony Ponturo is executive vice president of strategy for Turnkey Intelligence. He oversaw Anheuser-Busch’s marketing, media and sponsorship from 1991 to 2008.

The NHL may be in its most exciting position in more than 20 years and the league’s partners are benefiting from strong consumer awareness.

What are some of the reasons?

First, the NHL and NBC have become consistent and great partners that work together to promote the game. The NHL bounced around over the years from Fox to ESPN to NBC. Fans now know where to find national games, while NBC provides strong on-air promotion and, in many respects, adds to the growth of the NHL’s national image. Game 7 of this year’s Stanley Cup Final drew 9 million viewers and another 200,000 streaming online.

Second, the league benefited from excitement in a new market (Las Vegas), and from first Stanley Cup titles for the Washington Capitals, in 2018, and for the St. Louis Blues, in 2019.

Enterprise, whose logo adorns the Blues’ home arena, was another winner from the club’s 2018-19 success. The brand also sponsored the league, 29 other franchises and the NHLPA. It offered clear consumer rewards throughout the season and is a shining example of top-to-bottom involvement.

Pepsi’s fully integrated retail program featured NHL-themed cans and regional activations. One program that I enjoyed was the association it leveraged with goaltender Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers.

Some other standout sponsors included Honda, which served as title sponsor of the 2019 All-Star Game, and Adidas, which brought energy to the seventh year of its partnership as the league’s on-ice uniform provider with exciting new merchandise and licensing growth.

With the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers having made the No. 1 and No. 2 picks, respectively, in June’s draft, expect media coverage, fan excitement and sponsor activations across the NHL to continue their momentum next season.