Monday, November 5, 2007

The NHL and Advertising

NHL logoWatching old hockey clips on YouTube is great for a hit of nostalgia and also as a way to see how the game has changed over the years. It's also jarring due to the different appearance of the rink because of the lack of ads that were plastered everywhere back then. It all looked relatively pristine in comparison to today's commercialized boards and portions of the ice surface.

The rink isn't the only aspect of professional hockey that has been over-run by advertising. It seems every part of the game already has an advertiser's name attached to it. But some marketing genius always thinks up a previously untapped way to flog another call, segment or surface of an inanimate object (though at least the uniforms remain untouched, unlike their counterparts in European leagues.)

The most professional examples of this are seen on the big networks like CBC, whose production values are slick and barely seem to intrude on the presentation of the game.

Other regional telecasts and especially radio broadcasts reduce such parceled out pieces of sponsorship to unintentionally farcical levels.

"This icing call brought to you by Sid's Collection Agency. If you're stupid enough to blow thousands on NHL game tickets when you should have used the money to make payments on your new car, we're gonna make you sorry. Back to the game..."

"That shattered orbital bone is brought to you by Central Flower Shop, bringing some light into your otherwise nasty day..."

Periods, saves, intermissions, shots, goal posts, offsides...nothing is too inconsequential to include a sponsor's name. The constant spewing of obscure, mid-sized company names amongst the play-by-play and colour commentary reaches an absurd level during some games. You can tell that the announcers grow weary of it as well, as their voices take on that practiced pitch and speed up ever so slightly so they can get back to calling the action.

At some point, broadcast teams may bring in an announcer for the sole purpose of rattling off a steady stream of advertisements. When every last inch of the rink has been sold off and every call and play served up with a company name, they may turn on themselves in an attempt to churn up more revenue.

"And that's Mitch...no Bik...Biex, the Canuck's player with the puck..."

"That mistaken player identification brought to you by Sal's Memory Enhancement, the best way to improve your mental lapses as you **WHOOMPH** ...ah geez Bob, you didn't have to do that. That announcer on announcer assault was presented by Griswald Psychiatric consultation, experts in anger management..."

Apparently Thai boxers take company sponsorship to ridiculous heights by adopting the name of their sponsors when they fight. Perhaps with enough money on the line such insanity will one day come to the NHL.

"The fans are starting to throw objects onto the ice. This is getting out of hand. Labatts Blue is skating around trying to help the officials clean up the debris. Oh, and Labatts has taken a beer bottle in the head...and it looks like it's an empty bottle of Labatts. The fan who threw that really has no shame..."

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