VW Takes To The Ice With N.Y. Rangers And MSG


Volkswagen is sponsoring the New York Rangers for the 2010-11 season in a deal with MSG that includes the VW logo on ice, vehicle displays at Madison Square Garden and on-air activation. The effort also includes an in-arena fan contest, the "Shoot. Score. Drive. Challenge," which puts VW cars and crossovers on ice -- literally -- for a promotional in-game contest dangling Volkswagen vehicles as prizes throughout the season. 

The promotion involves a game-intermission contest in which a Rangers fan takes a shot from the far blue line for the chance to win a two-year lease on a Volkswagen vehicle. Fans have to text a keyword to a shortcode to be revealed throughout the season in-arena and on MSG Network or go to to vie for the chance to play. Volkswagen and MSG will promote the contest in the arena and on, the MSG Network, and in tri-state area Volkswagen dealerships.



Volkswagen also gets its logo on a Zamboni, and the brand gets exposure on MSG Network, where Volkswagen will promote the Power Play during games.

Ben Freidson, manager of sports marketing at Volkswagen of America Inc., says the Rangers were the right partners because the automaker has a big retail footprint in the tri-state area. "We have a great dealer base here," he says. The two other major markets for VW are Miami and Los Angeles. Freidson says hockey is the right sport for the brand because the sport's fan base demonstrates strong loyalty for teams and for brands that associate with them. "It's very similar to soccer. Fans live and die by the sport. And there's an intense loyalty to brands that support the sport."

"We still are challenged in terms of familiarity of the brand and products and consideration. We have strong brand awareness but we need to move the brand from niche to serious player and have people like us both for what we bring to the table as a brand but also our products. So sports platforms that get cars in front of people are important."

Shortly after moving from Auburn Hills, Mich. to Herndon, Va., VW signed as sponsor of the DC United soccer team. The company also did a deal with the Verizon Center and the Washington Wizards. "The mid-Atlantic region was a great test market for us to do activation, measuring and what works for the brand in sports," says Freidson. The company also did a partnership with the Houston Dynamo last year.

Dealership activation is important, according to Freidson. "Each dealership has rights to use team logos. And when people go into dealerships they will see Ranger-wrapped Volkswagen vehicles, point-of-sale materials. We are definitely pushing our 40-plus dealers in this area to leverage this because that's where these sponsorships become successful. Successful sponsorships are those where your strongest presence is outside the arena. It's our arrival; we have very aggressive goals and we want people to have us top of mind when they are making decisions."

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