NHL Sponsors Begin to Move Advertising Away From League Due to Lockout

How are the NHL’s corporate sponsors coping in light of the current lockout, which has wiped out the first two months of the season so far?

While some are showing patience, others are moving their advertising spend elsewhere, including one of the biggest names in the hockey world…

Ad Age has an interesting look at how firms are responding on the fly:

For big NHL official corporate sponsors, which include Molson, Coors Light, Gatorade, Verizon and Geico, the damage so far has probably been minimal, said Jim Andrews, VP-content strategy for IEG, a sponsorship, research and consulting firm owned by WPP. “The early part of the season is not typically where they concentrate their promotional and their activation activities,” he said. “For a lot of them, it becomes a much more critical situation the longer the lockout goes,” he added…

Of course, now that the Winter Classic has been scratched, that could make things a bit more serious, especially for Bridgestone, which is the title sponsor of the event and one of the NHL’s biggest supporters.

Readers of this site will of course be interested in the equipment manufacturers, and on that front, the situation requires more immediate action:

But for a company like Bauer, which targets young hockey players, the early part of the season is more critical because that’s when consumers start buying gear. “It’s a much bigger loss,” Mr. Andrews said.

Because of the lockout, Bauer has withheld digital ad buys on NHL.com and NBCSports.com. Also in doubt is a regional TV ad buy originally slated to air during the Winter Classic in several big hockey markets such as Toronto, Chicago and Boston.

So while fans are left to wonder when the NHL will return to action, companies like Bauer aren’t sitting around waiting for events to unfold. Will the other major sponsors follow suit if things continue to drag out?

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