In the professional sports microcosm, brand advertising and sponsorship are the major driving forces behind their successes. What do you envision when you think about NASCAR? For me, it’s the number twenty-two car, adorned with the Pennzoil emblem, with its driver wearing a suit of red and yellow, racing against twenty or thirty other teams who are equally saturated in product placement and logos. It’s pretty clear that NASCAR’s utilization of corporate marketing is slightly profound but what about all the others? If you think about the NFL, MLB or the NBA, what brands (if any) come to mind? How about the NHL? In this short essay, I will be discussing the partnership of one of the World’s largest automakers with one of North America’s most beloved and passionately charged sports: Hockey.
It’s no secret that the National Hockey League has a considerably large fan base, as well as a long-standing partnership with numerous corporate heavy hitters. Though each of the thirty-one franchises has their own local sponsors, the NHL itself is sponsored by corporations on four different levels: Global, North American, American and Canadian. These fruitful business arrangements not only benefit the teams, their personnel and of course the guarantors themselves but the greater good as a whole. In terms of sponsorship agreements made with sporting leagues, I can think of no better organization to hop on board than a vehicle manufacturer. Especially one such as Honda, who has consistently assured the quality of its products since its founding in 1948.
Honda Motor Company has come a long way from where it used to be. People would usually associate Honda with Formula One Racing or perhaps even its Street Bikes. Being as it is first and foremost a vehicle manufacturing company, it’s quite appropriate for it to lend its name and financial backing to motorsports. But what about a sport like hockey? By taking its marketing approaches down many different paths, Honda has forged an ongoing relationship with the NHL, so much so that it is now their Official Vehicle Sponsor on the North American level.
Honda initially took interest in hockey in 2006, sponsoring the Honda Center, the home rink of the Anaheim Ducks. In 2008 a deal was reached for Honda to become the Official Vehicle Sponsor. Originally planned as an eight year contract, Honda decided to stick around and ten years later, its proverbial game is stronger than ever. So too is the NHL’s literal game, which seems to be enjoying an upward swing in popularity. Does Honda have something to do with that? It is this writer’s opinion that it does. Not only has Honda’s expansion into the realm of hockey provided it with more opportunity to reach and possibly influence a younger crowd, it has also strengthened its reputation as an automaker who is truly invested in all of its business ventures. By continuing their relationship, Honda and the NHL are poised to keep doing great things both together and as individuals.