Friday, February 08, 2008

The Triple F Threat- NHL Promotion Plan

When my friend linked me to this website, I wasn't even sure what I was looking at. I don't follow ratings. Sure, I like to bring up ratings when trash talking small market teams, but I don't really know what I'm talking about. What is an average rating for the NHL? What is an average rating for a sports market? I don't know. And frankly, I don't really care.
But this hurts:
"The NHL drew the lowest overnight rating of any live sporting event on broadcast television last weekend. The 0.8 for Rangers/Canadiens was lower than the rating for bull riding on NBC and taped extreme sporting events on CBS the same day."
What the NHL obviously needs is a better promotion plan. There is no excuse for large market teams like the Rangers and the Canadiens to be drawing fewer ratings than bull riding. Bull riding! Maybe it's the Yankee in me, but I just don't get it.
This may be complete nonsense, but take it for what it is. I'm annoyed by the NHL's lack of relevancy in the world of sports. Clearly the greatest sport in the world should be seen as such. The NHL is a "niche" sport, but that doesn't mean we should give up. We need a good advertisement plan.
I have developed (in all my wisdom) a 3-step, Triple F plan to promote the NHL. It may eventually be debunked, but hey, this is my best shot:
The Triple F Threat:
1. Funny
2. Flashy
3. Frequency and Quality
This simple three step plan should make anyone an addict. Let's start with some humor, shall we?
FUNNY- Humor
The Dallas Stars had a good start this year with their cute billboards trashing (in jest) other sports. And the New York Rangers had those infamous "Bobby Granger" commercials. (If you haven't seen these, youtube them. And laugh.) And of course, Versus had those “NHL players are just like you, only good at hockey….” thing. Oh, and the newly-termed “Ovechkin” curse word. The problem with these innovative and funny commercials is that they don’t showcase hockey. Quite honestly, if you don’t know who he is, Ovechkin ordering food service for Crosby isn’t funny. In fact it makes no sense. But the idea of watching Joe Thorton butter toast is humorous… I guess. So at least this will catch people’s attention. It’s not perfect but these commercials get points for trying. Plus, who doesn’t want Turco in the back seat of your car? (That WAS Marty Turco, wasn’t it?)
FLASHY- Showcasing Hockey
Perhaps realizing this, the NHL decided to go in a different direction this season. Instead we watched Briere vandalizing a building with a puck, and listening to Crosby sell Reebok stock (because he’s playing for the logo on the front, not the name on the back). At least the Briere commercial showcased hockey. It said “this is what hockey players can do.” And I think it was pretty cool, and more effective than big Joe having toaster difficulties. (Oh, and a quick Ranger plug, as the Bobby Granger commercials also taught fans the new rules of the “new NHL,” which helped old fans and new ones understand.)
FREQUENCY and Quality- of Air Time
The biggest problem with the Bobby Granger commercials was when and where these commercials were played. Madison Square Garden Network is a television network comprised of basically two things- the Rangers and the Knicks. So why are we promoting the Rangers… on a channel only Ranger fans watch? In fact, this is the problem with the NHL’s attempts as well. You are not getting new fans by showing commercials during hockey games. You are just showing hockey fans ...more hockey. And it’s a big waste of commercial time.
On Ranger nights off, I spend my time watching the Islanders, Devils, or nationalized games on NBC or Versus, because I just like hockey.*** Hockey is fun. And most hockey fans I know feel the same way, and do the same thing. So advertising during hockey games aren’t helping you any, NHL. This is about proper air time and proper channels to put these commercials. This means on basic cable, or ESPN, or hell, even Nickelodeon or MTV, and get some kids and teenagers familiar with some NHL Superstars. They all know Peyton Manning and Alex Rodriguez, so why not add Vinny Lecavalier to that list?
You know what might have helped? A commercial during the Super Bowl. (Eighteen and one GIANT loss!) If you can’t afford it because granted, Super Bowl advertisements must cost unreal amounts of cash, at least try ESPN. Does this cost money? Sure, but it’s not unrealistic.
I really don't like the New York Islanders Christie Brinkley commercials. No, I don’t want to watch Billy Guerin smashing into the “windows.” It isn’t funny. And I don’t think it showcases hockey. However, these commercials aren’t only shown on FSN New York. They are shown on ESPN and other channels, which promotes the Islanders so much better than watching Bobby Granger commercials only on MSG. Commercials for Versus don’t work if they’re shown on Versus. Isn’t that a “duh?” But a commercial during SportsCenter might have a different effect. So you need to give the Islanders credit for doing what this league needs to do- promote the sport to new fans, not just the current ones.
***Hey NHL, in another way to increase ratings… the three New York metro area teams seem always play on the same night, leaving several nights of no hockey available to us hockey fans. Considering the fact that most hockey fans will watch whatever hockey is accessible, quit showing all three teams in one night. Spread out the wealth, and maybe you’ll see an increase in ratings; because although I would never turn off the Rangers for a Devil game, I would turn off American Idol for it.
Come on, Gary. FFF. We’ve got to do better than Bullriding.

X-Posted to Some Like It Blue


Isleschick said...

I'm pretty sure that Brinkley commercial (although all Isles fans hate it) is still a local commercial although it's shown on ESPN.

Kerri said...

It is but that's fine. The point is the local community who is watching ESPN is getting an Islander commercial... someone getting it in California would do no good anyway. But Long Islanders who don't like hockey therefore don't spend their time on FSN or MSG get no NHL Advirtisements. So while watching the college basketball or little league world series (or poker or whatever ESPN shows nowadays) hockey is getting some airtime, and someone might be thinking... "hey, I think the Islanders play tonight. Let's check it out."

In comparison to showing the commercial on FSN, when that whole audience KNOWS the Islanders play tonight.