Patchwork In Progress: Amway Taking Its Message Directly To Sports Fans

Amway is now hanging out with the Red Wings.November 17, 2010: Amway, the company that has established itself by taking its products direct-to-consumers, is now working on taking its sports marketing message direct-to-fans.

Ada, Mich.-based Amway said it has signed a "multi-platform deal" with the NHL's Detroit Red Wings that includes a logo patch placement on the team's practice jerseys, signage along the dasher boards in Joe Louis Arena and other marketing activation. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Red Wings are now just one of four NHL's teams with practice jersey-sponsored marketing deals: Calgary Flames (local retailer Rono), Vancouver Canucks and the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks (Giordano's pizza chain).

The Amway logo patch will appear on the upper right front of the Wings practice jerseys while adidas division Reebok, which is the official outfitter of the NHL, will continue to have its logo on the upper left of the  practice jersey front.  

The deal is part of a growing marketing trend that also has seen teams in the NBA and NFL enact sponsorship deals for brand placement on their practice jerseys. The WNBA and Major League Soccer allow teams to sign deals for jersey-front sponsorship deals on their game uniforms, while Nascar long has allowed drivers to place multiple brand logos on their racing togs.

Amway Center is the new home to the Orlando Magic.The deal with the Red Wings also complements Amway's other forays into pro sports, including a 10-year, $40 million naming rights deal to Amway Center, which opened in October as the new home to the NBA's Orlando Magic and will host the 2012 NBA All-Star Game; and the presenting sponsor of MLS's San Jose Earthquakes. Amway also had naming rights to Amway Arena, which was the former home of the Magic.

"Detroit may be 'Hockeytown,' but the Red Wings have loyal fans everywhere," Jori Hartwig, vp-marketing for Amway North America, said in a statement. "Our Independent Business Owners across the country will be proud to see the Amway name associated with an organization that has such a long tradition of winning and investing in its community."

Executives within the pro sports community and analysts who cover the industry say that economics dictate that logo placement on jerseys and uniforms will continue.

“[Fans] probably remember a time when there was no advertising on dasher boards, and now there is,” Bill Daly, NHL deputy commissioner,  said during a panel held in October as part of the Washington Capitals' 2010 Fan Convention. “We have not taken the step of allowing clubs to advertise on their game uniforms at this point [and] we are not actively considering changing that rule, at least at this point." But as Daly quickly added, "Who knows what the future might hold.”

"When the NHL created the opportunity for the practice jersey sponsorship, Amway emerged as an ideal partner for the Red Wings."

According to Steve Violetta, the Red Wings svp-business affairs, "When the National Hockey League created the opportunity for the practice jersey sponsorship, Amway emerged as an ideal partner for the Red Wings. As a Michigan-based company that is an active sponsor in several sports, we are very pleased with this alliance and look forward to an exciting future with our new partner."

Among other teams that currently have marketing deals for their practice jerseys are the NFL's New York Jets (Atlantic Health), San Francisco 49ers (Visa), New York Giants (Timex), Chicago Bears (NorthShore University Health System), Indianapolis Colts (Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance) and Seattle Seahawks (Bing); and the NBA's Phoenix Suns (Annexus Group), New Orleans Hornets (Chevron) and the Nets (PNY Technologies).

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