The Mergence Of New Sponsorship Spaces And The National Hockey League

It’s fair to admit that sports marketing pro’s are under a lot of pressure these days to increase corporate sponsorship revenues. This pressure has eluded the popular misbelief that naming rights, digital product placements and non-Twitter channels of communication (a.k.a the NHL’s GameCentre) is the inevitable answer – but it’s not.

Social and digital media is opening the door wide for new revenue streams, but how is the NHL capitalizing on these opportunities? I can’t emphasis enough how the “Scotiabank Game Day” is the most unclever pipeline entry. Out of all the emerging ways to promote sponsors, that’s the one Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment picked?

Thinking of new ways to promote sponsors requires a change in traditional thinking and it’s no secret that marketers continue to be drawn to live events – the playoffs being one of them.

Clearly, brands such as Scotiabank have realized the environment has become hostile to marketing communications and pushing through the clutter has proven difficult. But what kind of image does this name right give the notorious bank of foul plays? The market is becoming limited in terms of potential buyers and therefore, finding ways to stand out is imperative. Yes, Scotiabank stands out, but will the name stick when people talk about it? Unlikely, it’s a mouth full.

The way sponsors are being advertised today is incredibly different then it was even a year ago. Integrated campaigns that include multiple channels such as digital is the short answer, yet it continues to baffle seasoned marketers as they desperately try to grasp the evolution of digital media within the arena. In the past, deals used to be negotiated between marketers and a league or team. Today, negotiations occur between TV executives, media buyers, and players themselves. But, does this strip value for hardcore sports fans?

Because messages come out of every crack and crevasse, more demands have been placed on rightsholders to prove value and return. So I guess the question is, how do you diffuse all the noise and captivate an audience that has become immune to traditional messaging? Unfortunately, paying for your logo to appear next to an NHL team no longer provides the same return on investment. The answer: data marketing and not “over-the-top” naming opportunities. Did you know a new marketing trend is cutting costs and increasing revenue? Big shocker. Digital media opens up a brand new door to do this and here’s why.

As mentioned in a previous post, digital storytelling is the number one trend in social media marketing. In order to effectively break through the clutter in the arena and on the couch, the NHL needs to rely on precision marketing. This means coming up with the right message at the right time and in the right location if they want to fuel a successful marketing campaign.

Let’s break this down even further. Chief of Content Officer’s are becoming all the rage in marketing departments. Consumers are constantly demanding more content, more often. And the quality better be good. I recently read a post on Marketing Magazine’s website written by Michael Barnett. Last week he claimed that data marketing hinders creativity and prevents original ideas from flowing freely. I disagree – data marketing is simply improving the precision in which messages are targeted and then delivered. The truth is that content pieces are booming. This includes mobile apps, documentary films and TV shows – as well as all the simple stuff: blogs, videos on Facebook and Instagram photos. The creativity within all these content types is critical! It’s the channel, time of delivery and location that has become strict, not the message itself. So what can be learned from this?

That enhancing the superfan experience is crucial. Sponsors require more than just a simple brand association; they require depth, intrigue and emotional connection. And achieving these goals requires data. And a lot of it too. Winners of large sponsorship spaces are usually large rightsholders that have broadcast media attached at the hip. They often have a national footprint and appear as high profile brands. Traditional advertising channels offers little more than what the eye can see, but digital advertising channels offers not only a two-way street of communication, but an experience that amplifies all that is good.

In my next post, I’m going to take a closer look at how some teams in the NHL are coming up with clever ways to break through the clutter, enhance their fan’s experience in the arena and on the couch and how social and digital media is allowing teams to engage with their community in ways never seen before.

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About author
I’m a hockey fanatic with a drive for all things related to digital media. I think the role of social media in public relations is impacting the way other sports fans consume media. Media trends are rising like there’s no tomorrow, digital brand advertising is too often neglected and writing for the web has become an unprecedented terrain for anyone born before 1985, hands down. My marketing background goes back to 2009, where I earned a diploma in advertising from Georgian College. In 2011, I continued my marketing education at Algonquin College, where I received a post-graduate certificate in social media. Not content to rest on my laurels, I headed back to Georgian College to acquire yet another notch on my educational bedpost – another post-graduate certificate, but this time in Fundraising Resource and Development.
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