Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 07/18/05 at 11:51 AM ET
“Right now, I can name more soccer players than I can NHL players,” said Larry Novenstern, senior vice president of media buying agency Deutsch Inc. “They need to get [player-name] recognition back and be very aggressive about getting a television deal in place as soon as possible. Fans don’t care about labor issues, and [teams] need creative deals to bring them back into the arenas.” Before the lockout began, the NHL put together a detailed relaunch plan that included a new logo and other marketing initiatives. A league spokesperson said the NHL will wait several weeks before unleashing a major marketing push, but that when it does, it will focus heavily on players, an outgrowth of a labor deal that gives clubs a direct incentive to grow league-wide revenue. “The NHL will see a lot of season-ticket holders stepping down just to see what the new product looks like, and only when their confidence is regained can you get them to step up in ticket plans.” Dodge, one of the NHL’s longtime sponsors, wants to see the resurfacing league develop some star power. “The NBA has its key players, and that’s been lacking in the NHL for a long time,” said Julie Roehm, marketing communications director for Dodge. “The league has to make players more accessible, identifiable and create more personality. It’s essential to know that they will bring players to the forefront and that there is not a rift between the players and owners anymore.” “You learn from the other leagues, and the lesson first and foremost is you sincerely apologize,” said Bernie Mullin, president and CEO of Atlanta Spirit LLC, which owns the Thrashers. “A central element of our marketing plan will include more player interaction than ever before. Hockey fans aren’t as broad-based compared to other sports, but they are incredibly loyal. We need to have creative marketing that broadens our reach. “The biggest mistake we can make is to take our fans’ support for granted.”
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