After reading a column on the website Ad Age (via Hockey Gear HQ), the obvious hit me: the NHL’s take of sponsorship dollars hardly comes during the early part of the schedule, which means there was never much incentive for them to save the early part of the season, at least not from a “corporate dollars” standpoint.

Obviously missing the Winter Classic will cause a large financial hit for the league, but the rest of the major events – the All-Star Game, the playoffs, and specifically the Stanley Cup Final – could still move ahead as they normally would, meaning the NHL could still collect most of the big cheques they plan on getting every year. Even the majority of NBC’s NHL coverage doesn’t get going until January.

Hockey Gear HQ clipped some quotes from article that I thought were valuable:

For big NHL official corporate sponsors, which include Molson, Coors Light, Gatorade, Verizon and Geico, the damage so far has probably been minimal, said Jim Andrews, VP-content strategy for IEG, a sponsorship, research and consulting firm owned by WPP. “The early part of the season is not typically where they concentrate their promotional and their activation activities,” he said. “For a lot of them, it becomes a much more critical situation the longer the lockout goes.”

Again, that’s a point worth noting.

For big companies like that, what do they care about the first 30 games of the NHL season? There’s no marquee event, viewership hasn’t even started to reach their peak numbers, and things are just getting going. The NHL gets the big sponsor bucks farther down the road.

This stuff really leads me to believe that as we move closer to losing important games, the NHL will be more desperate. Man, I just keep getting more hopeful.

There are, however, a few companies that do feel the pinch. Bauer, Easton, Warrior and the like – hockey equipment companies – make their money at the start of the season, at the grassroots levels. Actually hockey players, kids (parents), buying gear.

The article continues:

But for a company like Bauer, which targets young hockey players, the early part of the season is more critical because that’s when consumers start buying gear. “It’s a much bigger loss,” Mr. Andrews said.

Because of the lockout, Bauer has withheld digital ad buys on NHL.com and NBCSports.com. Also in doubt is a regional TV ad buy originally slated to air during the Winter Classic in several big hockey markets such as Toronto, Chicago and Boston.

While those companies have had to divert their ad dollars to places like local arenas (which is I think is pretty cool), others have advertising budgets, and have to figure out where to allocate those dollars. Just another reason I’m encouraged the NHL will end the lockout soon. The silence, combined with pressures from fans and companies alike, have to be pushing the NHL to get a deal done soon.

Comments (6)

  1. HOPE 2012… sorry thats all i got.

  2. Television/Internet Video Ad campaign idea for Warrior, CCM, Bauer, Torspo …

    Scene: Some dudes sitting in a living room looking mopey and staring at a switched off TV.

    There’s a knock at the door. One of the dudes get’s up and opens the door. It’s Jeremy Roenick! (Mike Modano, Georges Laraque … some current or former NHLer with charisma).

    Dude1 (mopily): Hey, Jeremy.
    JR: Hey! What’s wrong with you guys?
    Dudes (dejected): There’s no hockey.
    JR (incredulous): What do you mean there’s no hockey? There is *always* hockey!

    JR Reaches through the door and pulls a bunch of equipment bags bursting with gloves, skates, shin pads, and sticks in from the porch.

    Cut to scene of the dudes and JR on an outdoor rink at a park or on a frozen lake, playing shinny, and having a great time. The sun is shining and the sounds of jawing, laughing, and skates cutting the ice is heard. Roenick puts a wrister on one of the dudes playing goal who reaches out and snags it with a nice glove save. All the dudes whoop and come to a stop around the cage. The Goalie Dude raises his mask and takes a drink.

    Everyone to Goalie Dude: “Nice save!”
    Goalie Dude (chuffed): “Hey, thanks for coming by Jeremy! This is beautiful!”
    JR: “You’re welcome, man. Hockey’s great for watching, but it’s even better for playing!”
    Dudes: “Right on!”

    Shinny resumes and camera pulls back as the sponsor’s logo appears on screen along with the phrase: “There is Always Hockey”

    • I like it… Can we get a scene of Roenick dancing on the ice?

      • Thanks. Now that I think of it. Some of the dudes should be chicks. Maybe Roenick would show up with Angela Ruggiero. For the Quebec versions Big Georges arrives with Tessa Bonhomme. (Is she even francophone? Damn. Hard to keep up.)

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