Canucks and Beyond
I’ve been thinking a lot about the NHL’s advertising power since the playoffs, having experienced first-hand the domino effect of Vancouver’s massive marketing machine. And not even just their marketing, but the trickle-down effect of having so many people willing to market your brand for you. Aside from the thousands of jerseys everywhere, there’s also everything from the Canucks Drink Special of the Day at every yuppie bar, to the street musicians doing their own turn at Canucks anthems. And a thousand things in between. So many people taking their little—or massive—cut of the action.
As someone who doesn’t get to attend games very often, I remember the first time I saw an arena blimp advertisement: that giant aluminum-wrapped phallus that is the Chipotle Blimp. At the time I’ll confess to having no idea what the hell a “chipotle” even was, and my imagination ran amok with the idea that someone had decided that floating this giant, hot-air-filled, mid-life crisis was a good idea inside a hockey arena. (Although it is kind of awesome.)
It was also the first time I’d seriously considered the extents to which marketing in sports arenas could go to. A blimp is pretty conventional, but the landscape of other revenue-generating surfaces seems virtually endless.
Seat Geek did an interesting chart, looking at the results—based on average ticket prices and points in the regular season—that hockey fans in Canada are paying for:
Let’s go back a few days, to Sunday, when Bruce Dowbiggin wrote the following at the Globe & Mail:
The Stanley Cup final matchup last year was the best thing to happen to the NHL in the United States since Wayne Gretzky dried his tears on the pier at Santa Monica, Calif., in 1988. The meeting of the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers, the third- and fourth-biggest media markets in the States, produced substantial ratings…[...].
The Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks pairing in 2011, by contrast, has been compared by some to the Fox TV glowing puck as a broadcasting non-starter. Ratings from the local Vancouver market don’t count in the U.S. Nielsen ratings. To Americans, Vancouver might as well be Vladivostok at this time of year. The Sedin twins, likely to win back-to-back Hart Trophies, rival the GOP presidential field on the invisibility factor. Boston is dropping as a major U.S. market.
But in reality, an entirely different picture emerges, as ratings from “Vladivostok” give NBC a whopping 14% increase over last year, and are, in fact, the highest game 1 ratings in 12 years.
A Montreal restaurant is in trouble for committing foul play with the Habs and the NHL.
After hanging a banner that contained unauthorized use of the Habs logo, the NHL and the Montreal Canadiens hockey club are suing the restaurant for $89,000.
“There is no way I can come up with this money, I am not going to pay them,” said Basha restaurant owner, Fadl Issa.
“I wanted only to do publicity for the Canadiens…. We are Canadians and we should be proud to support our own team,” he said.
The advertising signage the NHL and Canadiens are upset about:
Steve McLean at Chart Attack provides some background on the Vancouver Millionaires marketing angle to this year’s playoff run for the Canucks:
Mighty marketer Jon Mikl Thor is muscling in on the Vancouver Canucks’ Stanley Cup playoff run with the “Vancouver Millionaires” single/video and his new Vulcan Sky Records album, Sign Of The V.
The record was originally scheduled to come out next year to coincide with the Olympics being staged in Thor’s hometown, but the Canucks requested the use of “Vancouver Millionaires” as a motivator and team promotional tool as part of the “Let’s Do It Again” campaign. [...]
The Canucks are playing the album’s first track at games and promoting Sign Of The V at the team’s stores. It’s being played 25 times a week by TEAM 1040 Sports Radio, which is also running commercial spots recorded by Thor.
Chart Attack goes on to tell us that Thor is a “self-described rock icon” who feels he he belongs in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. (At least he’s not shy…) Anyway, I’m skeptical, but I might just be too old—or too sober at the moment—to fairly appreciate the nuances of contemporary hard rock.
The video is below in case anyone hasn’t heard it, so you can decide for yourself:
This is a few days old, but I hadn’t taken the time to look at it till today, and it struck me as an interesting index of pro-sports, particularly of the NHL itself.
Bizjournals analyzed the performances of all 122 franchises in the NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League in the 2008 calendar year. The top scores went to those teams that were strongest at the twin missions of professional sports—winning games and making money.
These were the 10 best sports organizations of 2008:Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics
1. Boston Celtics (NBA)
2. New York Giants (NFL)
3. Los Angeles Lakers (NBA)
4. Montreal Canadiens (NHL)
5. Boston Red Sox (MLB)
6. Detroit Pistons (NBA)
7. Detroit Red Wings (NHL)
8. Chicago Cubs (MLB)
9. Philadelphia Phillies (MLB)
10. Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL)
The Detroit Red Wings have a new holiday contest where fans submit and vote for their favorite home holiday display. And here are the prizes to be distributed December 30th:
First Prize: 2 Delta Airlines tickets
Second Prize: 2 tickets to the Winter Classic
Third Prize: a Winter Classic authentic jersey.
Which sounds good until Joe Hass at Winging it in Motown breaks down the problems:
The Canadian Press reports that Hayley Wickenheiser—the all-time leading scorer of Canadian women’s hockey and widely considered one the best female players to ever set foot on the ice—has made the cut for men’s professional hockey again.
A Swedish third-tier team, Eskilstuna Linden, has reportedly signed her for the 2008-09 season. The last time Wickenheiser played men’s pro hockey was a short stint in the Finnish Second Division, and her signing was met with mixed reviews, but there’s no doubting the impact she’s had on professional hockey culture.
A few words from Jamie Fitzpatrick on the issues faced in the past:
Last week, the US Supreme Court rejected an appeal from MLB and its players’ union, to hear their case arguing that their statistics were proprietary, and that players names and numbers in the sport were exclusively their property.
Why does this matter? Well, the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case was good news for fantasy sports fans, and especially the fantasy sport industry itself—a $500,000 a year, profit-making machine. By refusing to revisit the case, the Court was maintaining previous rulings that said—in essence—the statistics of professional sports are public domain. Fantasy sports sites can make use of that material without interference or added licensing costs. (Check out the Wall Street Journal for their hypothetical “Doomsday Scenario” if the Court had favored MLB…)
Anyway, the hockey bloggers at Illegal Curve drew their own short analysis of that court decision, as it applies to the NHL:
A note from Tim Wharnsby at the Globe & Mail hockey blog today:
Vancouver Canucks defenceman Willie Mitchell was unable to attend the funeral of young teammate Luc Bourdon in Shippagan, N.B. earlier this week because he was in Toronto to begin proceedings on a grievance hearing with his old club, the Minnesota Wild.
Mitchell, of Port McNeill, B.C., claims the Wild owes him his $1.775-million (U.S.) salary from the 2004-05 lockout because he suffered a neck injury while playing for Canada’s gold-medal winning entry at the 2004 IIHF world championship. He spent the lockout rehabbing his ailment.
I wasn’t aware of this. Wasn’t there another player who sued—and won—his salary for that season based on an injury prior to the actual lockout? It seems to me there was, but I can’t remember who…
Note: as someone just pointed out to me, ‘suing’ is probably the wrong word—he’s filed a formal “grievance.” Anyway, you get the point.
About Canucks and Beyond
Alanah McGinley has been blogging hockey since 2003 (with a notable gap in time through 2010, kicking it with new baby Lucy while living knee-deep in chaos while reading "parenting for complete idiots" during every spare minute) sharing opinions, rants and not-so-deep thoughts with anyone who will listen.
In addition to writing Canucks & Beyond and helping manage Kukla's Korner, Alanah was one of the founders and co-hosts of The Crazy Canucks Podcast. She has contributed pieces to FoxSports.com and the New York Times Slapshot blog, as well as other stray destinations in cyberspace.
So that's me. Who the hell are you?
Alanah's Twitter: [@alanah1]