Subway is benefiting from its high-risk, high-reward media sponsorship strategy during this year’s NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The fast food chain took a chance on partnering with NBC on the title sponsorship of the NHL broadcaster’s ‘Subway Overtime Intermission Report’ – a show segment that only airs if a hockey game goes into overtime.
The last few days have seen two of the first three games of the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals between the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings go into extra periods.
Indeed, Game Two on actually went into double-overtime – thus ensuring Subway benefited from high-level product placement across two TV intermission reports.
Through this year’s Playoffs, TV audiences have seen the Subway logo in front of and behind NBC hockey announcers during the sponsored intermission reports. Plus, the deals also gives Subway the rights to put its name and logo on digital scoreboards, banners and bumpers going in and out of commercial break.
Yet Subway (along with its media agency shopMediaCom) has done its statistical research on the likelihood of Stanley Cup extra time and has sponsored the NBC/NBC SportsNetowrk show segment for the last three years.
Already, the 2014 Playoffs have seen 25 overtime games – just three short of the all-time record of 28 set in 1993.
The reward is a great deal of brand exposure for Subway at a time when viewer/fan interest in the game is at a peak.
Indeed Subway CMO Tony Pace is reportedly already considering signing up for next year.
Subway is also supporting this strand of its Stanley Cup activation by running traditional TV spots starring ambassadors including LA Angels’ Mike Trout.
This may initially seem a fairly simple, traditional broadcast partnership based on the old school pairing of assets and metrics – logo, eyeballs, reach and frequency.
But it is actually a brave sponsor move: gambling that games going beyond regulation is clearly a calculated risk.
‘You’re spreading out the risk over a lot of games,’ says Pace.
‘At the end of the day, even if there had been no overtimes in the Stanley Cup Final, we had gotten so many of these before the Stanley Cup Final, that we were well ahead in terms of the calculations you make.’
NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs advertisers typically purchase TV spots across the whole post-season (rather than jusdt the Stanley Cup Finals).
NBC is reported to have been generating around $150,000 per 30-second spot for space during NHL Playoff telecasts.
A similar rate as last year – despite the two teams competing for the cup this year being in the two biggest US TV markets (New York vs Los Angeles).
Perhaps the interest in Brazil’s 2014 World Cup on ESPN, coupled with NBC’s own Sochi Winter Olympics coverage, has kept the NHL prices stable.
Some of the more notable TV work from NHL sponsors running during this year’s Playoffs include Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s spot showing off the shooting skills of US Olympic hockey hero TJ Oshie,
and fellow NHL sponsor and official pain reliver Advil’s commercial starring Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist standing tall against a charging Rhino.
The NHL’s own Stanley Cup promotional spot has also been praised across social platforms.