For sponsorship and marketing professionals, it can sometimes be difficult to natively integrate partners into their social media strategy without making it feel forced or out of place. It’s a delicate balance between driving value for sponsors and seamlessly crafting a narrative that celebrates their team and players throughout the season. The magic lies in creating content that accomplishes both objectives concurrently.
MVPindex is highlighting impactful and unique social activations that NHL teams used to drive engagement and value for brands during the 2017-2018 season (October 4, 2017 – April 8, 2018). With these tactics (and a countless number of examples to get your sponsor involved on a deeper level), you might never look at your digital sponsorship inventory the same again.
Don’t just focus on goals—amplify your team’s saves, too
The Chicago Blackhawks launched a sponsorship activation with plumbing and water service provider, Roto-Rooter, featuring their goalie’s total saves out of all shots on goal. Creatively dubbed “Between the Pipes,” they celebrated their successes through 10 Instagram posts and 4 tweets throughout the 2017-2018 season. The campaign generated 112K engagements and $77K in attributed value for the brand.
Turn big plays into heightened moments
The Pittsburgh Penguins don’t just provide game updates on their social media accounts; they focus on key players and pivotal moments in real-time during the game. The game-changing plays and the players who made them are showcased in their “Peak Performance” and “Stone Cold Save” Instagram campaigns. Coors Light backed the campaign, which has resulted in over 722K engagements and $292K in attributed value for the brand during the 2017-2018 season.
Capitalize on fan-generated content
The Toronto Maple Leafs partnered with Ford to make it easier to get fans to the game by sponsoring a weekly ticket giveaway and monthly ticket pass that gifts fans free tickets to every game for one month.
To promote this activation, the Maple Leafs invited fans to “Follow @TheFordFANatic for ticket details,” driving traffic and follows to this branded account. In order to enter the contest, fans needed to post pictures of themselves performing challenges using the hashtag #FansGoFurther. Overall, the Leafs have generated $508K in attributed value for Ford.
Amplify your final score graphic
You’re going to recap the game on social media anyway, so why not add a sponsor to the graphic? With each team playing 82 games last year and graphics spread across the various social media sites, this is an easy way to generate a lot of value on what are typically very engaging posts.
The Washington Capitals’ campaign featuring Alarm.com on their final score graphics generated $698K in attributed value for the brand before the playoffs even began in the 2017-2018 regular season.
Launch a weekly contest to encourage repeat engagement
Many teams leverage a QSR partner to provide a free coupon for all fans in attendance when a specific player scores or even when the team scores on a power play. The Montreal Canadiens do this in their #McGoal campaign by rewarding fans in attendance with a free McDonalds fry coupon if the Canadiens score the first goal.
But they don’t just stop there. The team takes this standard promotion a step further and extends its fans’ social engagement, encouraging them to make their best guess of which player will score the first goal. Fans can submit their guess by tweeting before each game, using the official #1stHabsGoal hashtag.
The team runs this contest exclusively on Twitter, which gives them a unique chance to promote their McDonalds partnership with branded Twitter graphics before every game. Overall, the campaign has generated 56K engagements and $508K in attributed value for McDonalds through the 2017-2018 season.
It’s important to note that the Canadiens’ activation in this campaign delivered more attributed value for McDonald’s than by any other team in the 2017-2018 season. In fact, it delivered more attributed value for McDonald’s than by all other NHL teams combined.
Get personal with the players
The Buffalo Sabres know that ice cream sweetens any celebration, so Perry’s Ice Cream seems like a natural partner. Their campaign highlighted each of the players’ birthdays with a graphic throughout the year and produced post-game graphics celebrating victories with the tagline, “How Sweet It Is.”
The partnership was simple, but effective. After 73 posts (roughly split evenly between Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), the campaign generated 147K engagements and $104K in attributed value for Perry’s Ice Cream during the 2017-2018 season.
Turn to video for a behind-the-scenes look
Fans love getting a behind-the-scenes look into their favorite players or teams. The Boston Bruins capitalized on this with their #BehindtheB series, which takes focuses on the “inner workings of the organization” with access to the team’s “locker room, executive board room, and player’s homes.”
The 21+ minute episodes are hosted on the team’s mobile app and are heavily promoted across social channels. Ticketmaster partnered with the Bruins to bring this campaign to life, and has earned $129K in attributed value from the social media promotion alone.
We’re just a few games into the 2018-2019 season and many of these campaigns have resurfaced to build on the previous year’s success. As the season progresses, MVPindex will continue to measure their engagement and share the value that these (and other new and unique campaigns) drive for their partners.
With so many ways to activate sponsors on social media, these seven campaign formats are just the starting point for what teams can accomplish for their partners throughout the season. There’s no limit on what might be this year’s most impactful or unique social sponsorship campaign.
All that is certain: the puck has dropped and hockey is officially back. For sponsorship and marketing teams, it’s game on.