Four Canadian brands go 24/7 with Rogers on Winter Classic
October 30, 2013 | Chris Powell | Comments
Rogers Media has enlisted four of Canada’s pre-eminent brands to participate in its upcoming airing of HBO’s 24/7 Red Wings/Maple Leafs: Road to the NHL Winter Classic. The four-episode show airs Sunday nights on Sportsnet beginning Dec. 15, with encore presentations on both City and Sportsnet 360.
The show will provide an intimate behind-the-scenes look at the two Original Six franchises as they prepare for the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at the University of Michigan’s “Big House.” It is the first time advertisers have had access to the show, which previously aired on HBO Canada.
Canadian viewers will get a modified 24/7 experience, however, as Rogers plans to edit out the liberal use of the f-word by NHL players and coaches (in the 2010 series, former Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau dropped 15 f-bombs in a now infamous locker room speech).
Rogers is also extending the reach of the four participating brands – Molson Canadian, Tim Hortons, Recharge with Milk and Ford F-150 – with an extensive multi-platform marketing program that includes TV (Sportsnet, Sportsnet 360 and City), online (Sportsnet.ca), mobile, print (Sportsnet Magazine) and radio (Sportsnet 590 in Toronto and Sportsnet 960 in Calgary).
Jamie Michaels, director of strategic brand integration for Rogers Media, describes it as an “all you can eat” package for the four participating partners. “We went out looking for four sponsors in four non-competing categories, and the idea is they come in as an exclusive partner and get sponsorship of all those platforms,” he told Marketing. “We felt four was the right number given that it’s four episodes – it’s a lot of content but not tons, so we wanted to make sure the four brands stood out.”
Rogers is just beginning to develop the marketing programs, but Michaels said they will include traditional TV billboards, print integration, website sponsorships, sponsored radio promos and more. “It’s part of this marketer plan to leverage our platforms to add a bit of context [to the TV program],” said Michaels. “We’re going to be doing some great lead-up content.”
Michaels would not reveal how much the advertising packages were sold for, but acknowledged that it is a premium-priced property. “This is definitely a crown jewel type of product,” he said.
Michaels said that the cancellation of the 2013 Winter Classic because of the NHL lockout gave Rogers the opportunity to redraw some of its original plans for the program. “We looked at it with fresh eyes, and it gave us a bit more time to flesh out some of these plans,” he said.
He called this year’s broadcast a “perfect storm,” with two beloved franchises – both of whom have massive fan-bases – participating in one of the marquee events on the NHL calendar, documented in a show created by one of the world’s pre-eminent content companies and available to a greater number of Canadians than ever before (Sportsnet is available in 8.5 million Canadian households, while City reaches an estimated 84% of households).
“It’s great for hockey fans, but it’s good for general interest [viewing] as well because it’s got that HBO production style that’s so appealing,” said Michaels. Liev Schrieber (Ray Donovan) is the narrator for the show.
The primary audience for 24/7 is adults 18-49, with a male skew. “There’s a really passionate fan-base here and we know they’re going to dig really deep within all these platforms,” said Michaels. “What we focused on was making sure the four brands were really prominent within all those platforms using our current ad units.”
Pre-promotion for the event is expected to begin in late November/early December said a Sportsnet spokesperson.