Bridgestone Gets NHL Winter Classic For 5 Years

gametimeBridgestone has signed a five-year deal extending its relationship with the National Hockey League and putting its name for several years on the league's New Year's Day winter event, the NHL Winter Classic.

The deal, also with the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) and the Hockey Hall of Fame, includes both Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations and Bridgestone Canada Inc. and makes the brand the Official Tire of the NHL, NHLPA and the Hockey Hall of Fame from 2010 to 2015.

Bridgestone gets its logo into the official game and event mark, on-air title broadcast rights from all of the league's broadcast partners in the U.S. and Canada (NBC, CBC and RDS); branded promotional opportunities on NBC coverage of the game; camera-visible logo placements; TV spots on arena video monitors and PA announcements. Bridgestone also gets brand placement throughout all NHL media properties, including video, print, online and radio, per the NHL.



John Barrata, president of Bridgestone's U.S. and Canada consumer tire replacement division, tells Marketing Daily the NHL gives the company a bigger bang for the buck "in terms of hockey fans in Canada with increased awareness and sales. We are very pleased with results both in Canada and the U.S., particularly in northern markets," he says.

He says the NHL Winter Classic agreement reflects a strategy of moving away from the "shotgun" marketing that the brand previously did -- where it had a presence in an array of events, none of them terribly deep. "The target demographic is primarily male in the 25-54 range, and when you target sports, you get that and a diverse audience as well; and we wanted to align with large events, like the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup, and the PGA Bridgestone Invitational."

We have found that in all sports marketing around unaided brand recognition and intent to buy, if they say they are NHL fans, the Bridgestone brand recognition is higher and intent to buy is higher. Each year, that intent to buy and brand awareness have grown.

Beyond the Winter Classic, Bridgestone's "Official Tire" status gives it promotional access on NHL Face-Off, the Stanley Cup Playoffs, NHL Draft, NHL Awards and the NHL All-Star game, per the league. The NHLPA side of the deal gives the tire maker use of NHL Player rights and images.

The company will support the league's media properties, including and NHL Network, various NHL clubs and by advertising on NHL telecasts in Canada and the U.S. Finally, Bridgestone will sponsor the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award Presented by Bridgestone, and the Bridgestone Mark Messier Youth Leadership Award.

Bridgestone has been Official Tire of the NHL for the past two-and-a-half years, but had never signed a long-term deal around the Winter Classic, per Keith Wachtel, NHL SVP of corporate sales and marketing. "But this is a much more expansive and long-term relationship," he says.

"The key is that it's truly a North American partnership, because we translate strongly in the Canadian marketplace. In past years [with Bridgestone's involvement in The Winter Classic], they were getting one-offs. Now, they will leverage the association over the course of the entire year," says Wachtel.

He adds that the deal is a much bigger partnership with broadcasters. "They will now work much more closely with NBC, including pre-promotions with events. Again, it's not just about the U.S. It will also be in Canada with the CBC and RDS, where they will have title rights of broadcast as well. So it's a big, significant media property, not just leveraged in the U.S.," he says.

Wachtel points out that the NHL is the only sports property that controls its own content across North America (via the, NHL Network, and NHL Mobile). "That lets us provide a one-stop shop for partners," he says.

The effort was brokered by Richards Sports and Entertainment, a division of Richards Group, Dallas, Bridgestone's AOR.

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