As hockey season returns next week, sponsors will be hoping to make up for some lost time.
And one of the biggest in Canada is getting some help from the NHL. On Monday, Bank of Nova Scotia will launch its flagship advertising campaign for the upcoming season with its new line of debit cards, each featuring one of 30 team logos.
The ads bring together mascots from six teams in scenes such as lunch at a diner or in a grocery store, to showcase the cards.
The campaign signals a shift in how the NHL is working with its sponsors this year, the bank says, after a lockout shortened the last season and sent marketers scrambling.
“The league has done a very good job of addressing sponsor concerns,” said Duncan Hannay, senior vice-president and head of marketing in Canada for Scotiabank. “And we were vocal about those concerns.”
The league demonstrated “flexibility” in negotiating the use of team mascots and logos, Mr. Hannay said, as well as offering up its own assistance with the campaign.
For example, the NHL.com website will be hosting banner and video ads, and the deal allows for cardholders to receive a discount in the NHL online store.
“They’re doing their utmost to make sure we get traction,” he said. “If you’re a hockey fan, this year, there will be no avoiding this.”
The league declined to comment for this story.
The cards are an attempt to borrow some of the goodwill associated with NHL fandom, Mr. Hannay said.
“How many bank products do you know that bring up a positive emotion?”
Despite initial concerns about the lockout’s effect on the league’s brand, the bank’s research showed that fan sentiment has bounced back.
Scotiabank’s strategy has been to cultivate a friendly, approachable image – the hope is that the campaign will resonate with existing customers, and bring in new hockey-loving customers.
Once that happens, Scotiabank has more opportunities to cross-sell other products to them.
“We didn’t know whether it would be possible, or who even owned the mascots,” said Hayes Steinberg, associate creative director at the bank’s ad agency, Bensimon Byrne.
Because Scotia is a league sponsor, there is a “collective use” rule in the agreement that meant they had to use multiple teams. That meant flying in mascots – from New York, Vancouver, Washington, Columbus and San Jose – for the ad shoot in Toronto.
In Toronto, where the bank is also a team sponsor, it will have more freedom to highlight the Maple Leaf logo and mascot Carlton the bear in local ads.
The campaign follows a soft launch of the concept at the end of the 2011-12 hockey season, when the bank released a series of team-branded credit cards. That product was “more niche” and had very little advertising. It also was not helped by the lockout-shortened season that followed.
This campaign will involve a major media investment, with ads running on TSN and
during CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, on arena rink boards and other out-of-home spaces, in print, in bank branches, and online.
A series of humorous short videos starring the mascots will also be released online, to address a major digital shift in how banks – and all marketers – are speaking to consumers.
“We know that second screens [such as mobile phones and tablets] have become a huge part of how people consume live events and specifically sports,” Mr. Steinberg said. “The tone of it had to be something we believe would be shareable by our audience in the social media space.”