Extended Wear: Bridgestone Drives NHL Partnership


Bridgestone has signed a five-year deal extending its relationship with the National Hockey League. It's also slapping its name for a few more 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 and the Hockey Hall of Fame, includes both Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations and Bridgestone Canada and makes the brand the Official Tire of the NHL, NHLPA and the Hockey Hall of Fame from 2010 to 2015. The alliance covers the league's media properties, such as its online sites and NHL clubs.

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.



The tire company 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, says the NHL gives the company 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.

"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," says Barrata.

One play: NHL fans say the Bridgestone brand recognition is higher and intent to buy is higher. Each year, that intent to buy and brand awareness has grown, he adds.

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.

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. 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."

He points out that the NHL is the only sports property that controls its own content across North America (via the NHL.com, 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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