I used to be a big NHL hockey fan, so much so that I proposed a sports advertising sponsorship to one of my former employers, making us a pioneer in rink board, in-ice and arena advertising/sponsorship for NHL hockey teams in Canada back in the early/mid-90’s. The proposal was accepted, and over a few years we were in all NHL arenas across Canada.
Europe had been doing it for a while, but Canada was treading carefully into this new territory, trying to be tasteful and not distracting to players, or the game. There were very few rink board positions available, and limited other options for additional advertising to “own” the arena. We used to joke about what else could be branded or covered in advertising, not knowing that this would eventually materialize!
Fast-forward to today, as I watch the Stanley Cup Playoffs and see about double the number of rink board ads, more in-ice advertising, and pretty much every imaginable inch of “real estate” in hockey arenas now covered in advertising, including new properties being created in order to allow for more advertising by sponsors. So much for not being distracting to the players or the game!
I guess it was inevitable that this would happen?!? Sponsors want more exposure to justify their investments and promote their brands (especially amidst all the clutter that has resulted). And arenas are looking for additional ways to commercialize their properties and make money to add to their bottom lines. Money talks! And times do change.
Could we have predicted this? What will things look like another 20 years from now? Will we be saying “I remember when…”?