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NHL Turning to Hair to Tell Stories with Great Clips

The NHL and Great Clips are beginning a new multi-year partnership by exploring player hairstyles during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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NHL Great Clips Brent Burns

Photo Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

There’s an art to hockey hair and the NHL wants to spread the word through its partnership with Great Clips.

NHL players generally take great pride in their hairstyles, said Evin Dobson, NHL group vice president of partnership marketing. The Great Clips partnership allows the two organizations to better showcase the stories of the hairstyles, even in a somewhat self-deprecating way, he said.

“We like to say the success of the business is the success of players on the ice, night-in and night-out,” Dobson said. “But for us, it’s exciting for a partner like Great Clips to showcase personalities in a fun and interesting way and the subject matter of hockey players and their hairstyles is so fun and magical.”

READ MORE: Stadium Series PreGame Shows Off NHL Partnership Growth

The partnership with Great Clips is a new multi-year deal, but it’s the second straight year of the LegendHairy Greats of the NHL, which will allow fans to vote for their favorite NHL hairstyles and share their favorites on social media. Six NHL players will be featured in the voting campaign, including San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns; Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi; Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander; Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos; Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba; and Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk.

The voting campaign is meant to help drive engagement with shareable content, but also start and drive conversations about hockey hair and the players fans love most, said Lisa Hake, Great Clips vice president of marketing and communications.
The partnership also includes the NHLPA.

“Building off our successful work together during the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, we are extremely excited to see our relationship with Great Clips expand,” said Sandra Monteiro, NHL Chief of Global Business Strategies. “This partnership continues to showcase the players, their styles and personalities and capitalizes on their ability to connect with fans across North America.”

The campaign will also feature a video series of players interviews talking and photos about the history of their hairstyles, starting with Burns and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith.

“We shot video with them talking about their great hair, memorable hair stories and insight to their current styles and what makes them special,” Hake said. “It’s showcasing their confidence and swagger in their hair and sport.”

Dobson said hairstyles are important to many of the NHL players and while helmets are on during the games, they can be seen in many shots before and after games. Likewise, many players keep their helmets off during warmups realizing the opportunity to show off their hair.

“We’re always very conscious of how we speak to fans and our messaging,” Dobson said. “They’re tough, but they care about their appearance. We want to help educate the fans about how to get great hair in a fun and engaging way.”

The LegendHairy Greats campaign will also be present in 4,400 Great Clips salons in the U.S. and Canada, Great Clips app, broadcasts, arenas and the various social media channels throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The partnership also includes traditional TV spots and dasher board logos.

“With all of those touch points, we love when our partners lean in through platforms with content and storytelling,” Dobson said. “They’re investing heavily in the NHL ecosystem and players association rights, just really heavily invested in this opportunity.”

READ MORE: ‘Bundle All the Fun Together’: The Art of Sponsorship Activations in Vegas

Along with the overall NHL partnership, Great Clips also has seven club partnerships with the Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Hake said Great Clips realized the natural synergies with the NHL when they looked at the target customer demographics. The new partnership launches with this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, but will be featured through branding and activations across NHL properties and events during the foreseeable future.

“It’s just a great authentic tie-in,” she said. “We’re really excited about the partnership and the stories we can tell about the players and their great personalities. And the best time to do it is the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The competition on the ice is fierce, but that doesn’t me we can’t showcase and have fun with stories.”

Pat Evans is a writer based in Las Vegas, focusing on sports business, food, and beverage. He graduated from Michigan State University in 2012. He's written two books: Grand Rapids Beer and Nevada Beer. Evans can be reached at pat@frntofficesport.com.

Sponsorship

Teams and Leagues Cozy Up to CBD Brands

The sports world is beginning to bring CBD companies into the fold, marking a significant milestone for the CBD industry.

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Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else.

As teams and leagues look for emerging partner opportunities, CBD brands are showcasing that they aren’t afraid to spend when it comes to sports partnerships. 

While not really a thought in the minds of professionals more than a year ago, CBD presents both a revenue opportunity and an interesting challenge for teams and leagues.

How did this happen?

Before the enactment of the new nationwide 2018 Farm Bill. there wasn’t much mainstream conversation around CBD. Since then, the category has exploded across both retail and sports.

When the bill passed, it legalized industrial hemp by removing it from the controlled substances list and allowing tribes, states, and territories to establish regulatory structures within their boundaries that allow farmers and ranchers to produce a high-value cash crop while retaining federal farm program benefits that were previously not allowed.

Teams and leagues are starting to find interest…

Just this past week, the Portland Pickles became the first baseball team with a CBD partner.

Before that, the Big3 signed a deal with cbdMD that made the brand the official CBD partner of the upstart basketball league. 

And, ahead of this weekend’s Indianapolis 500, Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced its partnership with DEFY – a CBD-based sports performance drink.

The only problem with this partnership is that the drivers of the car can’t drink the drink due to the fact that CBD is on IndyCar’s banned substance list

Who’s sponsoring what?

Below you will find a list of some of the CBD and cannabis-related partnerships that have been signed recently.

Las Vegas Lights / NuWu Cannabis Marketplace

Big3 / cbdMD

Portland Pickles / Lazarus Naturals

Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports / DEFY

Jonathan Byrd’s Racing / Liquid Gold Processing

RC Enerson / Craft 1861

It’s not just teams and leagues…

While the bigger deals might get more attention, CBD companies have also struck deals with athletes. 

For example, Bubba Watson has a deal with cbdMD, the same brand that is sponsoring the Big3.

Before Watson, Scott McCarron signed an endorsement deal with Functional Remedies, a hemp manufacturing company.

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Sponsorship

Are NFL Jersey Ads Next?

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May 15, 2019; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns linebacker Sione Takitaki (44) runs a drill during organized team activities at the Cleveland Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else.

Jersey ads aren’t an unfamiliar sight at NFL practices. Brands like Lecom and Hyundai are visible on the practice jerseys of the Browns and Cardinals respectively.

The one place jersey ads haven’t shown up is in regular season games. 

Could that be changing anytime soon?

Speaking with SI, an NFL spokesman said, “Never say never, but there are no current plans to pursue or explore.”

With what SI estimates to be $224 million in revenue being left on the table by not having patches on the jerseys, why would the league not consider it? 

According to those inside the industry, the NFL is concerned about conflicts of interest between teams who may have patches of competitors of current partners for opposing teams.   

The NBA has found success…

The NBA launched its jersey patch program in 2017 and as of March of 2019, every team in the league found themselves with a patch on their jersey. 

According to Terry Lefton and John Lombardo of SBJ, the patch program has generated more than $150 million for the league.

Another important stat is that of the 30 team patch sponsors, 20 are doing business with NBA teams for the first time.

At this point, not having ads is more unusual…

Even MLB, considered the most traditional of sports leagues in the U.S., has experimented with sponsor patches since 2000. Of the major sports leagues in the U.S., here’s a look at which ones have ads on their game jerseys and which ones don’t. 

NBA: Yes

WNBA: Yes

MLS: Yes

NHL: No 

NFL: No

MLB: Yes (for special occasion games only – Mexico Series etc)

Internationally, teams are cashing in…

While soccer is somewhat different in that the advertising is not just a patch, but the primary part of a team’s uniform, the revenue potential can’t be argued. Here’s a look at what just five brands are paying international clubs, according to The 18.

Emirates / Real Madrid: $80 million per year 

Chevy / Man U: $68 million per year

Rakuten / Barcelona: $60 million per year

Emirates / Arsenal: $56 million per year

Yokohama / Chelsea: $51 million per year

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CohnReznick Sponsors a Dive Inside the Business of Baseball

Accounting firm CohnReznick shows the business of baseball in two video series with MLB, “Business of Baseball” and “Front Office Focus.”

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CohnReznick MLB Videos
Photo Credit: Peter G. Aiken/USA TODAY Sports

Accounting firm CohnReznick is taking an authentic approach to its MLB sponsorship. Through a video series called Business of Baseball and Front Office Focus, CohnReznick lends its name to an inside look at professional baseball. The series is produced by MLB Network, where it airs, along with, MLB.com and CohnReznick’s website.

MLB confirmed CohnReznick as a sponsor of the video series to FOS. The two parties collaborate on ideas, but MLB declined to speak on the sponsorship further.

“Our team really wanted something that was authentic, not just a way to slap our name onto something, but to own something,” says Frank Longobardi, CEO, CohnReznick. “We are able to align some of our core values with what’s being talked about in Business of Baseball and Front Office Focus. That makes us feel good, as we felt we could drive content and value with our strengths.”

READ MORE: MLB Flies Under the Radar With Sponsor Patches

While service-oriented companies have sponsored sports for decades, it’s becoming more common for non-consumer brands to find ways to cut through the clutter,” says Joe Favorito, a sports marketing and communications consultant.

“These companies are tying to something that resonates,” Favorito says. “Consumers have millions of choices. If it comes down to personal choice, they remember the company for who their spokesperson is or the story being told.”

The Business of Baseball series launched during December’s Baseball Winter Meetings, where CohnReznick was the presenting sponsor of the meetings for MLB Network. Over the course of the video sponsorship, there will be approximately six Business of Baseball videos and up to 35 Front Office Focus clips through the season.

“They’re topics, like hospitality and security, that are the same types of things we deal with our clients,” Longobardi says. “We wanted to show similarities of how Major League teams go through some of the same things our clients go through.”

Each of the videos feature commentators and baseball executives. Front Office Focus highlights discussions with executives from the league’s 30 teams about issues ranging from team strategies to club operations, while Business of Baseball looks into how franchises transform the game through analytics and management, but also how they redefine the fan experience.

A recent episode, “The Business of Food,” featured a look at how food experiences now play into a fan’s trip to a ballpark., like a sit-down interview with Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer by CohnReznick Managing Partner Cindy McLoughlin talking about how the game day experience has evolved to include a culinary aspect. The restaurant industry is evolving inside and outside the ballpark.

“When you look at stadiums and games, it’s not just about baseball anymore,” McLoughlin says. “Fans expect an overall experience. People get to stadiums to stand in line, they need to get their Shack Burger.

“That led us to Danny Meyer to really peel back why it’s a benefit to him and how those synergies line up.”

The video topics originated in a brainstorming session featuring CohnReznick’s team and  MLB. The topics center around issues with innovation and analytics to elevate customer experience and retain loyalty. From these conversations, MLB could consider matching a team with a relevant topic.

“It puts us front and center with a really good brand,” Longobardi says of the partnership. “In any business, you want to align yourself with good organizations, and this relationship does that well and connects the right type of people we’re trying to attract, the C-Suite individuals to middle market to small public companies.”

READ MORE: The MLBPA Has Embraced Athlete-Driven Marketing

The sponsorship has allowed CohnReznick to provide clients, potential clients and employees with strong relationship building opportunities at games and events.

“It really has allowed us to spend some time with key clients and be able to spend quality time with our employees and enjoy ourselves,” Longobardi says. “We can more closely align MLB brand with our clients and our staff, and that makes it a unique experience.”

By tying in with behind the scenes content, CohnReznick hopes to resonate with clients beyond just a name on the screen.

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