Marketing the New NHL

How would you market the new NHL? Let us assume that the NHL resumes in 2005-06(at some point).

When the names of Conferences changed, we were all upset that the “history was taken away.” Well, the NHL wasn’t popular with that history in place, and it isnt popular now. So why not keep history where it is(on the trophies) and start again.

It has been rumored that the NHL has a new Logo to introduce as well as a new marketing strategy. I haven’t got a clue what the logo will look like, but I’m introducing my own “speculation” on what the NHL’s marketing strategy should consist of.


TV: the NHL has had the least TV time of every sport imaginable in the US. Remember, I’m not talking games. So the NHL must buy lots of commercial time.


1)Well, why not during Poker on ESPN? it gets semi-decent ratings for a taped event, so why not grab some of the audience back, and then retake the time slot!?

2)World Series/Baseball playoffs. It starts around the beginning of the NHL season, and lots of people watch it. It is prime territory to get some good commercials when people will see them.

3)SuperBowl. both the NHL and NHLPA should agree to do this one(one each, once a half at their own expense). there wont be a bigger TV audience in the US, and the NHL AllStar Game usually follows, so its prime commercial time.

4)Before playoff time: blitz the airwaves with commercials about the playoffs. they are the most exciting in sports, and always have the potential to be the “best ever” or have a game that is “classic.”

*Note: obviously, radio time is important too, along with Internet ads*

Who to Market?

Obviously, youre going to market the stars because they are stars, but what about these stars for “different” reasons?

Jarome Iginla: don’t take this the wrong way, but its the truth that “african” americans dont really watch hockey. what better way than to show that one of the BEST PLAYERS in the NHL actually is!

Scott Gomez: no more recognizable, hispanic name in hockey than his. let the hispanic communities know that other than baseball and soccer, that they can excel in hockey and even lead(tie) the league in an offensive category! there are plenty of hispanics in the NY/NJ and LA areas. plus, Gomez is one of the more “fun-loving” players(aka, good interviewer, like JR).

Martin St. Louis: hes not big, but he can play. make the NHL seem something other than a bunch of goons with sticks(the only part of the game the non-sports media covers). no pun intended, but we always root for “the little guy” and many would be impressed with his play.

Martin Brodeur: the only goalie(now) capable of breaking Patrick Roys win record and maybe even get 100 shutouts in his career. 3 Cups, 2 Vezinas, 1 Gold medal, 1 World Cup Gold, and thats not even including his stats.

Sidney Crosby: the NHL always needs “new” stars, and hes ahead of the pack. get this kids name out in EVERY NHL city once hes drafted and ESPECIALLY once hes playing. the NHL should do exactly for Sidney Crosby what the NBA did for LeBron James.

*Note: im well aware I chose 2 Devils, but I did not choose them BECAUSE they are Devils. Also, please include a defenseman*

What teams to market?

The USA needs to see another team other than Detroit on national TV. So, I think the NHL needs to create a “rivalry week” just like every other sport. Detroit v Chicago, Toronto v Ottawa, Philadelphia v Rangers(when good, NJ till then), etc, etc. and MARKET those games and teams during the week(s) before AND during.

Of course, a smart move would be to market not only Big Market teams, but the good smaller market teams. Also, it would be smart to market the MOST OFFENSIVE team as well(even if they may not be good).

How to market players and teams:

Obviously, you need TV time. This is quite obvious. But I leave to you to not only critique my ideas, but answer this question on your own.

I would also hope you add other “stars” to market and other ways and reasons to market them.

9 Responses to Marketing the New NHL

  1. Habfanforever says:

    Jarome Iginla is an Alberta, Canada native, mulatto. Not “African-American”. Anson Carter would be a better poster boy. It is safe to say that hockey IS getting more and more popular amonsgt the black people, seeing that the NHL currently has Anson Carter, Georges Laraque, Peter Worrel, Kevin Weeks and Freddy Brathwaite along with decent skilled up-and-comers like Shawn Belle and Anthony Stewart. Still it will be hard to overcome the racial barriers in hockey as interest is just not the same for blacks in hockey as it is for Basketball. Hispanics are more passionate about soccer, etc. You COULD attract some interest but gaining long-time, die hard fans like in Canada will be very hard if not impossible to do.

    Also some teams should very well be on their way back to Canada. Winnipeg, Quebec city, Hamilton and Halifax are all more than decent candidates. Along with major loss of interest and the non-hockey oriented US networks (ESPN), the NHL has made a major mistake of “trying” to market hockey in cities that couldn’t care less about this great game by bringing teams to places like Arizona, North Carolina and Tennessee. It’s like major league baseball expanding to Mongolia.

    Come on, bring back teams to where people hold the sport dearly in their hearts.

    As for the regulations department, well first of all keep the ice surface the size it is. ABOLISH THE TRAP. If there is one thing that destroys the excitement of a hockey game, it’s the trap. I agree with all who call it “anti-hockey”.

    Minor penalties should not end on goal but should be continuous as do 5 minute penalties. Fighting majors should not result as a 5 on 5 but instead a 4 on 4. 5 minutes of 4 on 4 action never killed anyone. Look at the quality of the OT. 75-80% of the time, the excitement of play improves dramatically as compared to the overall regulation game. Bring in the shootouts. They’re exciting to watch and they would result in less ties in overall record. All goals scored during shootout should be recorded to the player’s totals.

    Bring exctiting aspects to the game and people will watch it. If you don’t change anything and spend a billion dollars on fancy commercials, the game won’t be any more exciting and there won’t be more fans watching than now.

  2. NjDEVSFN says:

    i know I cannot define Iginla as “african american” but trying to get the point across that he NEEDS to be marketed in the US

    abolish the trap…kind of hard, but some kind of “illegal defense” if the refs(and linsemen) see it happen? a 2min bench minor? 4? 5minutes?

  3. hockeyhead says:

    the thing with hockey is that it is regional….like it or not.

    also, hockey is a tough sport to play….it takes a lot more than running, jumping and throwing or what ever.

    further more,,,, it is expensive to play…..i have friends that play hockey and they have very little kids but they are thinking about not introducing the game because of cost and crazy rink times.

    it is hard to make a game appealing to people that don’t get it, can’t play it or were never introduced to it.

  4. N25philly says:

    Here are some slogans that would really match the new NHL.

    The NHL: You’ve heard of us, right?

    The NHL: Still putting the fans last

    The NHL: #1 in empty seats

    The NHL: We’ll score some goals next time.

    The NHL: You do know that our season was supposed to start a long time ago, right?

    The NHL: Where overpaying has-beens is an art form.

  5. 19Yzerman says:

    I can’t believe Hockey has to try and send subliminal messages through a regiment of TV commercials in attempts to gain popularity simply for increased ratings.

    Part of the problem is ESPN not helping and doing its best to promote Hockey during its moment of darkness and despair. No instead of showing us NCAA or AHL hockey to maintain watching hockey games on TV (ESPN). They are showing us Texas Holdem and ESPN dream job which they are saying is getting better ratings than the NHL did prior to the lockout. Its a scare tactic. The NHL should spook them back by offer its self to fans as a pay per view type of format in a package that would be like a simple $5.00 per month for 2 live games per day and then that channel would cycle those 2 games along with 1 hour of highlights from other games that day until the next day.

    There should also be a required tickets sales average quota to maintain an NHL team in any city. If a teams fans cannot pick up its team when its falling then its gone. Off to another hockey market which will be given its chance to support its team into prosperity. If you like having a shoe store in your town then you should patronize that store and buy your shoes there because if you don’t that store will go out of business. Spook the fans into attending games.

  6. big_booty says:

    The NHL has been trying to market its product for the past decade. Marketable celebrities like Denis Leary, Keifer Sutherland, and Shania Twain have been brought in for TV spots, even the cast of “Friends” got in on the action by sporting Rangers jerseys during prime-time, and Wayne Gretzky hosted SNL.

    The problem that no one out there seems to recognize is that NOBODY’S BUYING what the NHL wants to sell.

    With the exception of the “glowing puck,” I thought the coverage on Fox was great. I must be the only one out there who found a computer-animated explosion added to a strong hip check amusing and worth watching.

    TV networks realize this. NBC is probably going to break even by broadcasting hockey games, hence the network-friendly deal they signed with the NHL.

    For those of you pining to see the NHL return to Winnipeg or Quebec, forget it. Winnipeg is not a viable television market (never has been), which is what the league needs from a franchise home. As for Quebec, that town treated the Nordiques like a one-night stand – after they left, the city collectively yawned and scratched its balls.

    As for marketing the likes of Iginla and Gomez based on race – give me a break.

    Hockey is a WASP sport. That fact will never change. Ever. Attempting to get hispanics and african-americans to get into hockey is like selling dehydrated water.

    (Note: I mean no offense to these racial groups, I am merely stating my own opinion.)

    You’re never going to hear the phrases:

    “Damn, homey. Did y’all see Anson go top shelf on that cracker Brodeur? That was DOPE!”


    “Mira, ese – these chulos can’t stop Scotty goin’ end-to-end, and that cabron’s glove hand is too weak.”

  7. kingmo15 says:

    i know that when i REALLY became a fan of hockey and developed an appreciation for the talents the players display, it was all after I had tried skating myself. sure i watched the games and rooted for the pens before knowing how hard (and fun) the game was to play, but when i first put on roller blades, then tried the transition to ice skates, and finally organized leagues, the game on television appealed to me more than ever.

    maybe, in a commercial, they challenge the viewer, somehow, to lace ’em up and find out for themselves how hard the game is… afterall, the ultimate hockey fan is a hockey player theirself.

  8. NjDEVSFN says:

    i would bet if the NFL had a woman kicker, they would market her because she is a woman

    in a sport dominated by whites, why not market the minority? it makes sense

    plus, Iginla and Gomez are (rising) stars in this league

    3 celebs who arent even A-list isnt enough, Gretzky hasnt been on SNL since his first time

  9. TheCoach says:

    Frankly, I don’t think that marketing any of the NHL’s current stars will work. The only hockey players that the majority of American’s know of are Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. Marketing guys like Jarome Iginla and Scott Gomez might work if they played in places like L.A or NY, but they play in two small markets that nobody cares about.

    What I would do, is create commercials which feature current celebrities. For example, Matthew Perry is a huge hockey fan. He’d get more attention than any hockey player. Or how about a guy like Matt Damon or someone like Jennifer Aniston?

    Just having their faces in ads would garner more attention than anything else.

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