Wednesday
May262010

Tire And Ice: Bridgestone, NHL Renew Successful Marketing Alliance

May 26, 2010: Bridgestone says its tires perform well during ideal and poor road conditions. Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations and Bridgestone Canada also do well on ice, having signed a five-year deal to continue as the "official tire" of the NHL, NHL Players' Assn. and the Hockey Hall of Fame. Bridgestone also will remain as title sponsor for the annual outdoor Winter Classic for the duration of the deal.

Financial terms were not disclosed. Nashville, Tenn.-based Bridgestone has been an NHL partner since 2008. Bridgestone is currently renegotiating its deal with the NFL, which has included title sponsorship of the Super Bowl half time show. The brand is also the official tire of the PGA Tour, and its Firestone sibling is the official tire of Major League Baseball.

"We believe that the hockey fan really parallels very nicely with Bridgestone demographics," Phil Pacsi, vice president, North America Consumer Tire Marketing, BATO, told NYSportsJournalism during an earlier interview. "They are a more tech-savvy fan than any other sport, and we like how that matches up with the technology of our tire brand. And this is not just in the U.S. but also in Canada, which is a huge market for us. So I would say that awareness is definitely up among hockey fans and we feel it is a strong factor in driving sales."

An important part of the deal was the success of the NHL Winter Classic, for which Bridgestone has been title sponsor for two of the three annual outdoor games: Jan. 1, 2009 at Chicago's Wrigley Field and Jan. 1, 2010 at Boston's Fenway Park. The first NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2008 in Buffalo had Amp Energy Drink as title sponsor.

The game has become "must-see" New Year's Day TV on NBC, with rising ratings and increased activation both from NHL marketing partners and local communities. The site of the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic has not yet been determined.

For the 2011 Winter Classic, Bridgestone will receive several assets in addition to incorporating its logo into the official game and event mark. They include on-air title broadcast rights from all league broadcast partners (NBC, CBC and RDS); branded promotion in NBC programming; camera-visible dasherboard placements of the Bridgestone logo; in-arena video spots and PA announcements; and integration of the Bridgestone brand throughout all NHL media properties, including video, print, online and radio.

Bridgestone also will leverage its status as the exclusive tire of the NHL and NHLPA by supporting the league’s media properties including NHL.com and NHL Network, various NHL clubs and by advertising on NHL telecasts in Canada and the U.S.

The Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park was a ratings and marketing success.In addition, this sponsorship includes the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award Presented by Bridgestone, which recognizes the NHL player who has demonstrated superior leadership in hockey and has made positive contributions to society, and the Bridgestone Mark Messier Youth Leadership Award, which rewards youth hockey players or mentor/coaches for their contributions to youth sports or education.

“This has been a great partnership to position the Bridgestone brand with a premiere sports league with a large and very loyal fan base,” John Baratta, president, US & Canada consumer replacement tire sales division for BATO, said in a statement. “By continuing our partnership with the NHL, the NHLPA and the Hockey Hall of Fame we will continue to connect hockey fans across the world with our message: for drivers who want to get the most out of their cars, it’s Bridgestone or nothing.”

According to Mike Ouellet, NHLPA chief of business affairs, “The NHLPA is very pleased to renew our successful partnership with Bridgestone. Bridgestone’s long-term commitment to NHL players and the NHL game will provide positive exposure for their industry leading brand to our loyal fan-base.”

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