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NHL Brand Badly Damaged

from Roy MacGregor of the Globe and Mail,

Level5 is a 10-year-old company based in Toronto that has done “brand” analysis for such major enterprises as the NFL, NBA, 3M Co., Rogers Communications Inc., Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd., Second Cup Ltd., BCE Inc., Petro-Canada and many others.

Its expertise lies in in-depth interviews that determine the “emotional attachment” people have to various products.

In the case of the NHL and its players, the abiding feelings of the moment are betrayal at one end of the scale and utter lack of interest at the other. If you’re looking for warm and fuzzy, get out a microscope – or, better yet, switch to curling.

According to Level5 chief executive officer David Kincaid, the survey was conducted not for the benefit of the league but as a tool that might be sold to the multiple corporate sponsors of professional hockey, in order to show what they need to tap into with hockey fans if they hope to regain their former good standing.

It will not be easy.

“We found damage at levels we have not seen,” Kincaid says. “It’s quite alarming, really.

“If anyone thinks that the lockout can end and everyone will come back to Happy Valley, it ain’t going to happen.”

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Filed in: NHL Talk, NHL Business of Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Comments

Mandingo's avatar

But I’ve been assured by members of this very site that the lockout will have no ill effect whatsoever on the game and anyone who says otherwise is an idiot and probably a communist.

Also:

“If anyone thinks that the lockout can end and everyone will come back to Happy Valley, it ain’t going to happen.”

You would think as a brand analyzer this guy would realize the stigma associated with Happy Valley. Maybe Level5 was hired by Penn State to do a little damage control and he’s trying to reintroduce “Happy Valley” into our lexicon as a place that isn’t synonymous with “demonic child molester.”

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 12/18/12 at 09:42 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

But I’ve been assured by members of this very site that the lockout will have no ill effect whatsoever on the game and anyone who says otherwise is an idiot and probably a communist.

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 12/18/12 at 08:42 AM ET

Those members are saying that because when the NHL finally drops the puck they’re gonna run as fast as they can toward the arena, squeeling like a pre-teen girl at a Justin Bieber concert. They’re just hoping everybody else is going to do the same. Justifying their embarrassing behaviour, so to speak.

 

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 12/18/12 at 12:39 PM ET

LivinLaVidaLockout's avatar

But I’ve been assured by members of this very site that the lockout will have no ill effect whatsoever on the game and anyone who says otherwise is an idiot and probably a communist.
Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 12/18/12 at 08:42 AM ET
Those members are saying that because when the NHL finally drops the puck they’re gonna run as fast as they can toward the arena, squeeling like a pre-teen girl at a Justin Bieber concert. They’re just hoping everybody else is going to do the same. Justifying their embarrassing behaviour, so to speak.

Posted by Vladimir16 on 12/18/12 at 11:39 AM ET

You know, I don’t have a problem with people having either reaction.  I miss watching Datsyuk and Zetterberg and want to see them again in Wings uniforms, but this whole thing leaves such a bad taste in my mouth I also want to return my season tickets and watch it from home.  IMO, the sooner the Nuke comes, the sooner we can start recovering from the radiation poisoning.

Posted by LivinLaVidaLockout on 12/18/12 at 01:05 PM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

Posted by LivinLaVidaLockout on 12/18/12 at 12:05 PM ET

I’m going to be holed up in my bunker for quite a while. Ya know, just to be safe.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 12/18/12 at 01:45 PM ET

Avatar

If you don’t run back right away and throw money at the NHL it is because you really don’t love the game as much as those that will race to fill the NHL/NHLPAs coffers. It is really about you being a bad fan.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 12/18/12 at 01:54 PM ET

LivinLaVidaLockout's avatar

If you don’t run back right away and throw money at the NHL it is because you really don’t love the game as much as those that will race to fill the NHL/NHLPAs coffers. It is really about you being a bad fan.
Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 12/18/12 at 12:54 PM ET

See, here’s your mistake. The NHL has the best fans in the world.  If they don’t return in mass, it’s due to no fault of their own.  In fact, with many other leagues having ‘good’ fans, eg. the NFL, the NHL having the best fans means that whatever they do after this lockout WILL be the perfect choice.

Posted by LivinLaVidaLockout on 12/18/12 at 02:06 PM ET

Avatar

Sorry, sometimes I wish there was a sarcasm font.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 12/18/12 at 02:28 PM ET

LivinLaVidaLockout's avatar

Sorry, sometimes I wish there was a sarcasm font.
Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 12/18/12 at 01:28 PM ET

Haha I know, I’m just having fun too.

Posted by LivinLaVidaLockout on 12/18/12 at 02:36 PM ET

henrymalredo's avatar

For awhile, I had kinda known that I would probably jump back to the NHL as soon as it returns, but lately, I’ve just been kinda apathetic.  This is the new normal, we’re going to lose a year of hockey every few seasons and I’m starting to not see to point of getting reinvested in it.

Posted by henrymalredo from Lansing on 12/18/12 at 05:12 PM ET

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Paul, you left out the parts in the article where they mention that the NHL now has a worse brand score than BP after the Gulf Oil spill, and that this survey was done completely in Canada.  The NHL is not in good shape.

Posted by IceAce on 12/18/12 at 06:07 PM ET

Hippy Dave's avatar

I love how the article mentions that the BP oil spill rated more positive than the NHL lockout.

Posted by Hippy Dave from Portland by way of Detroit on 12/18/12 at 06:07 PM ET

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But I’ve been assured by members of this very site that the lockout will have no ill effect whatsoever on the game and anyone who says otherwise is an idiot and probably a communist.

Hey now, totally untrue.  I never called them Communists! smile

Guys, we all danced this dance in 2005.  Everybody came back.  Squeeling with joy.  Attendance the year after the lockout was higher than it was the year before the lockout.

While the lockout was going on?  Anger.  Hate.  Raaaaaaaaaaage!  Furious anger directed at Bettman, at Goodenow, then in random directions.  A tiny minority fled their fandom never to watch or care about another NHL game again.  In aggregate they were replaced.  And then added to.

The phrase ‘I’ll believe it’s a crisis when the people saying it’s a crisis start acting like it’s a crisis’ comes to mind.  I’ll believe people don’t care about hockey when the people saying they don’t care about hockey start acting like they don’t care about hockey.

Those members are saying that because when the NHL finally drops the puck they’re gonna run as fast as they can toward the arena, squeeling like a pre-teen girl at a Justin Bieber concert. They’re just hoping everybody else is going to do the same. Justifying their embarrassing behaviour, so to speak.

Not me.  I gave up the abused fan relationship with pro sports a loooonnng time ago.  I enjoy it when it’s around, I go a game every now and then (but pretty rarely and almost universally via third party ticket resellers), and I don’t trust any sport, league or team to be thinking about my best interests for one single second.

Rooting is just as effective from your couch for free (well, relatively free) as it is from an arena for 50 bucks a night minimum.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 12/18/12 at 07:09 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Multi-million dollar company with multi-billion dollar clientel’s opinion on a subject that built their business on>self-professed omnicent HiHD ‘s opinion on the same issue.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 12/18/12 at 08:12 PM ET

Avatar

Not me.  I gave up the abused fan relationship with pro sports a loooonnng time ago.  I enjoy it when it’s around, I go a game every now and then (but pretty rarely and almost universally via third party ticket resellers), and I don’t trust any sport, league or team to be thinking about my best interests for one single second.

Rooting is just as effective from your couch for free (well, relatively free) as it is from an arena for 50 bucks a night minimum.

Ugh, it feels really, really, dirty but I absolutely agree with you…

Posted by Garth on 12/18/12 at 10:40 PM ET

Avatar

Multi-million dollar company with multi-billion dollar clientel’s opinion on a subject that built their business on>self-professed omnicent HiHD ‘s opinion on the same issue.

A) You need to figure out what self-professed means.

B) Trying to make a joke about someone being intelligent as you misspell a couple words, while possibly just typos, is still pretty funny in a way you likely didn’t intend.

C) I wonder if your position regarding this supposed obvious superiority of people who are paid to do things having irrefutably superior opinions on those subjects extends to, say… NHL GMs?  Coaches?  Owners?  Commissioners?  No?  Ah.

Hey, by the way… how’s BP doing now anyway?  I mean, since they had that awful branding issue super-specialists level5 so expertly pointed out, BP must be cooked, right?  Poor guys, we should pass a plate and start… oops:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-44255/BP-announces-record-profits.html

“BP announces record profits”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204840504578088070077261446.html

“The London-based energy giant boosted its quarterly dividend 13% to nine cents a share, payable in the fourth quarter, as it reported a 7.8% rise in net profit.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/feb/07/bp-announces-25bn-annual-profit

“BP has declared itself “back on the right path” following the difficulties of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill with annual profits bouncing back from a $3.7bn (£2.3bn) loss to a $25.7bn profit.”

Huh.  If I didn’t know better, I’d say that what the branding looks like in the short term isn’t exactly representative of what things will look like, you know, AFTER.

Right now, the NHL is leaking oil into the ocean.  Glug glug glug.  Once the hole is plugged and the pumps start running, though… back to business as usual.

This is the way of things.  Time heals, anger fades.  Routine resumes.  In a year or two you’ll probably have a hard time getting correct responses from people about any of the details of the BP spill, just like three years out from the 2005 lockout pretty much brought it up or cared about it any more.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 12/19/12 at 05:04 AM ET

Avatar

Ugh, it feels really, really, dirty but I absolutely agree with you…

Let us frolic together in the murky, viscous pool of rightness!

The towels are by the lounge chairs.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 12/19/12 at 05:06 AM ET

Mandingo's avatar

Hey, by the way… how’s BP doing now anyway?  I mean, since they had that awful branding issue super-specialists level5 so expertly pointed out, BP must be cooked, right?  Poor guys, we should pass a plate and start… oops:

Posted by HockeyinHD on 12/19/12 at 04:04 AM ET

Wow!

You mean people didn’t stop buying the single most important commodity in the world from the third-largest supplier in the world because some oil was spilled in the Gulf?

I really thought China would get out of the petrochemical game after that happened.

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 12/19/12 at 10:39 AM ET

RedMenace's avatar

Rooting is just as effective from your couch for free (well, relatively free) as it is from an arena for 50 bucks a night minimum.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 12/18/12 at 06:09 PM ET

Ugh, it feels really, really, dirty but I absolutely agree with you…

Posted by Garth on 12/18/12 at 09:40 PM ET

Seconded.

And from experience, he’s actually quite enjoyable when he’s not pounding his “superior intellect” into your facehole.

Posted by RedMenace from the Church of Jesus Lashoff on 12/19/12 at 10:46 AM ET

redxblack's avatar

I’ll be stealing free streams wherever possible. I won’t be restarting my cable subscription so that I can get center ice, nor will I be buying game center. My partner is stuck for xmas shopping because there are no tickets to buy and I have asked to not receive any NHL merchandise at all. I’m not a “casual fan” either. This lockout of choice is the league destroying itself.

As far as last time, I didn’t watch a single NHL game in 2006. Now technology makes it so that I can.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 12/19/12 at 10:58 AM ET

RedMenace's avatar

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 12/19/12 at 09:58 AM ET

I’d consider “stealing” half a season from them if they get things going for the rest of the year. One good turn deserves another, right?

 

Posted by RedMenace from the Church of Jesus Lashoff on 12/19/12 at 11:07 AM ET

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Isn’t not going to games and not directly buying the product, but using the product when available for “free” what most of us that have proposed “boycotting” said from the very beginning? It wasn’t ever about “hurting” the NHL per se but , not being taken advantage by a league that takes our support for granted.

I look at my own lockout trajectory. From season ticket holder (for mutliple teams) and travel, reduced to partial ticket plan (in the local market) and travel to games then reduced to secondary ticket market and Center Ice. I no longer go to games unless the tickets are free (I don’t buy in stadium), I’m dropping Center Ice and I’ll watch when on basic cable (I’m not a Nielsen family so my ratings don’t count).  I no longer purchase jerseys (with a collection of over 30 plus pro or game worn) it wasn’t a casual hobby nor do I now buy any other products.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 12/19/12 at 11:58 AM ET

RedMenace's avatar

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 12/19/12 at 10:58 AM ET

I don’t know, watching “free” streams is a very half-hearted boycott, if you ask me. The only *real* way to boycott is to cut it out entirely.

Granted, I said I’d come running back as soon as the puc—excuse me, I have some wool stuck to my shoe… there, got it—as soon as the puck drops, so I have no illusions about my stance.

That being said, minimizing their profit off of me while still enjoying the product seems like a good compromise.

Posted by RedMenace from the Church of Jesus Lashoff on 12/19/12 at 12:29 PM ET

Avatar

is a very half-hearted boycott

It isn’t about punishing myself, it is about making sure I am not totally being used. Minimizing their profit may not even be noticed, it is about me not being taken for granted.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 12/19/12 at 12:32 PM ET

RedMenace's avatar

It isn’t about punishing myself, it is about making sure I am not totally being used. Minimizing their profit may not even be noticed, it is about me not being taken for granted.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 12/19/12 at 11:32 AM ET

Of course. I wasn’t trying to discount your feelings or say the way you choose to boycott is “worse” than another. If it came off like that, I apologize.

If enough people do it, it most certainly will be noticed. But that’s quite a monumental “if.”

Posted by RedMenace from the Church of Jesus Lashoff on 12/19/12 at 01:40 PM ET

Avatar

You mean people didn’t stop buying the single most important commodity in the world from the third-largest supplier in the world because some oil was spilled in the Gulf?

You mean people didn’t stop going to a game they loved from the largest and highest-quality supplier in the world just because some of the product went missing?

That’s the point of the corollary, you see.  Even though there are all sorts of other places to get oil, BP didn’t suffer any noticeable long-term harm from a huge, huge PR disaster.

So in a market with way less competition people are going to treat the NHL more harshly than they treated BP?  Come on.

Personally, I get a pretty approximate level of enjoyment watching hockey at the Major Junior, NCAA and AHL level than I do (did, whatever) at the NHL level, but the NHL is the pre-eminent league for the sport of hockey.  It just is.  If BP was the only place to go to get the very best oil or gas in the world they’d have had a lot shorter downtime than they did.

Other competitors could come in and absorb market share.  And even then, BP was able to move past a bad PR event and recover.

The NHL doesn’t really even have to worry about short term market share losses happening.  European hockey is never going to be a direct competitor unless they start playing their games at 2am in the KHL and midnight in the SEL.  The time difference kills them.

They have to weather whatever super short term (30, 60, 90 day) hits they’ll take, but once they get past that things will start sliding back into their normal, historical routine fairly quickly.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 12/19/12 at 03:46 PM ET

Avatar

And from experience, he’s actually quite enjoyable when he’s not pounding his “superior intellect” into your facehole.

I prefer to think of it as ‘nuzzling’, with occasional playful nips at the ear.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 12/19/12 at 03:51 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

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