Honda may be the presenting sponsor of the NHL’s All-Star Weekend, but it’s St. Louis-based Enterprise activating at every turn of the weekend-long celebration of many of the league’s top players.
In its home market, Enterprise felt a need to play a significant role in the 2020 NHL All-Star Weekend, said Kyle Sanborn, vice president of brand strategy at Enterprise.
The St. Louis-hosted All-Star Game is made all the more special by the Blues winning the Stanley Cup in 2019, making it the first All-Star Game held in the reigning Stanley Cup champion market since Edmonton in 1989.
“We are activating more than we have in previous All-Star Weekends,” Sanborn said. “Inherently because we have the naming rights to where the game will be played, a great marquee branding people will see no matter what we were to do. But, we want to make this a great experience for the masses and community at large in St. Louis.”
The weekend begins with the Enterprise NHL All-Star Friday Night concert, with O.A.R. headlining and the red carpet arrival of the players, elite women’s players and mascots.
Enterprise is also doubling-down on its Hat Trick Challenge, donating $10,000 to the charity of the player’s choice for the first hat trick in each of the likely high-scoring 3-on-3 games during the All-Star event. The regular season’s program donates $1,000 for each hat trick, a total at more than $130,000 through the first part of the season. The All-Star Weekend could also see a $10,000 donation to the first hat trick in the women’s 3-on-3 game during the skills competition.
Bringing the hometown benefits full circle, Enterprise is also hosting the Winterfest at the Arch All-Star Game Watch Party, a free event featuring a skating rink and giant screen at the Gateway Arch.
“We knew for Enterprise, especially heading into the renewal back in the spring, this would be an exciting All-Star Weekend for them,” said Evin Dobson, NHL Group vice president of partnership marketing. “They wanted to offer something free, giving back to the hockey fans in St. Louis, an opportunity to feel the excitement of the weekend.”
The commitment to the NHL is strong from Enterprise, who recently signed an extension to take the already more than a decade-old partnership through the 2022-23 season. Sanborn said the company sees more room to grow within the NHL fan base which already is currently five times more likely to rent with Enterprise than a competitor.
Beyond Enterprise, of course, there’s a flurry of activations from the many other NHL partners, including Bud Light, Discover, Dunkin’, Fanatics, Geico, Great Clips, MassMutual, New Amsterdam, SAP, Ticketmaster, Topps, Truly, and Upper Deck.
Honda heads into its sixth year as the title sponsor of the All-Star festivities, highlighted again this year by the MVP vehicle giveaway, which will be the CR-V Hybrid. Dobson said beyond the title sponsorship and MVP giveaway, Honda will look to “cross-pollinate” with its motorsports stars who are also hockey fans.
“It’s a 360-degree activation plan,” Dobson said of Honda.
New Amsterdam has also stormed onto the NHL partnership scene in the past season, in large part due to the spirit brand’s partnership with Barstool Sports and the collaboration Pink Whitney product. Along with its first year as the title sponsor of the skills event, Dobson said New Amsterdam will have a massive Pink Whitney Bar within Enterprise Center and will continue its place sponsoring the Saturday night party.
Dobson said AB InBev is back following an eight-year absence, after signing a new partnership deal in December. Discover is continuing a trend of increasing activation at the last few NHL events, Dobson said, like this year’s 360-degree camera booth.
SAP will also grow on its activations at last year’s NHL All-Star Game in San Jose, offering a new fan-facing interaction with its SAP Coaching Insights App called “Face-Off Fury.”
The mass activations by NHL partners at the NHL All-Star Weekend is a way for the league to allow fans to understand the reason the brands have synergy.
“As we think about what these partners and fans, the moments we’ve created to rally around activate them, they’re marketing platforms,” Dobson said. “For the title partners, Honda, in this case, Bridgestone for the Winter Classic or Navy Federal Credit Union for the Stadium Series, it’s a 10-12 month proposition.
“We can build up the brands and connect deeper with creative activations. All of it for them is to create a moment to connect with fans, but also live with a longer lifespan.”