How Brands can Leverage a Hall of Fame
On Monday November 9th the Hockey Hall of Fame will induct its Class of 2015, culminating a series of Hall of Fame events taking place throughout the weekend. Hockey fans will be watching as each player’s contribution to the game of hockey is recognized. This year’s class of seven who include Chris Pronger, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Sergei Fedorov will join the hundreds of players before them. As hockey fans turn their attention to this year’s induction ceremony, brands who are sponsoring the Hockey Hall of Fame will also hope to receive an uptick to recognition. From sponsored exhibits to a presence during the induction process, MKTG studies how and why brands can leverage a sponsorship of the Hall of Fame.
Why Hall of Fame Sponsorship?
Build a Perception of Prestige- Halls of Fame celebrate their respected sport by recognizing only the best athletes over the course of history. When an athlete is inducted, their career is validated as historic. By only admitting the very best that have played the game, a Hall of Fame becomes a place of significant prestige. Through meaningful and creative activation, a sponsor of a Hall of Fame can then hope to achieve a transference of these brand attributes, and be looked at as important to a sport’s history as well.
Double Down on Investment- For a brand already invested in a certain sport, a Hall of Fame sponsorship provides another proof-point of a brand’s commitment. At the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, TSN has created a TSN Broadcast Zone allowing visitors to record play-by-play commentary on some of the most iconic plays in hockey history. Despite Rogers’ ownership of hockey in Canada, TSN is able to connect with hockey fans through a unique presence as the Hockey Hall of Fame, denying Rogers the right to own yet another connection point to the game of hockey.
Leverage A Unique Hosting Environment- Entering into a sponsorship deal with a Hall of Fame may grant access to using the Hall itself as a venue for hosting. The unique setting can provide brands with a way to entertain clients or reward employees.
Ways to Sponsor a Hall of Fame
Sponsor External Programming- Many sponsors restrict their investment in a Hall of Fame to the museum itself, limiting their reach to a single location. Sponsors can look to build programming around the Hall of Fame and one such way to do that is through HOF-themed events outside the museum. To mark this year’s Hockey Hall of Fame induction, the Haggar Legends Classic, an exhibition hockey game featuring the induction class as well as a select number of other retired hockey players will take place. The title sponsor is clothing brand Haggar and the event has a variety of other sponsors including Reebok, Canada Post, and Tissot. Special programming such as this allow Halls of Fame to expand and operate outside their location creating additional new sponsorable assets.
Sponsor An Exhibit- The Hockey Hall of Fame has a number of sponsored exhibits allowing brands to own a specific element of the museum. Video game brand EA Sports sponsors an NHL 15 video game exhibit while sports card brand Upper Deck sponsors an exhibit dedicated to NHL collectibles. However, brands must recognize that a Hall of Fame is meant to honour the game and its history and should be cautious of over-commercialization. Brands need to insert themselves into a Hall of Fame without taking away from the exhibits and add value to the visitor’s experience.
Celebrate an Induction– The main event for any Hall of Fame is when they induct their new class of athletes. Brands can join in on the moment and capitalize off the inducted athlete’s peak awareness moment. Brands often do this to varying degrees when an athlete is inducted. When Scott Niedermayer was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, former sponsor Bauer sent out a congratulatory tweet. However this is an opportunity to go above and beyond and offer a notable congratulations. AT&T recently congratulated golfer Jordan Spieth by constructing a mural made entirely of golf balls in downtown Dallas. Brands could learn from this and create similar notable activations to congratulate a player on their induction.
Notable Case Studies from the “Big Four” Halls of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame & Panini- As an official sponsor of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, sports card brand Panini releases special edition cards of the Hall of Fame inductees. They also sponsor an autograph session with the inductees before their ceremony. Panini is able to integrate their brand authentically by celebrating the inductees with their own special cards and facilitate an experience sought after by avid sports historians and collectors - a target group likely to be interested in both the Hall of Fame and Panini.
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame & Spalding- Sporting goods manufacturer Spalding is an official sponsor of the Basketball Hall of Fame and in conjunction with the Hall organize an annual high school basketball tournament. The event takes place in Springfield, Massachusetts where the Hall of Fame is located. With this newly developed programming, the Hall of Fame and Spalding have also brought on other sponsors including Gatorade, Nike, and Xfintiy.
Hockey Hall of Fame & Tissot- Watch brand Tissot has sponsored the international exhibit of the Hockey Hall of Fame which features displays on World Championships and Olympic Games. The international nature of the exhibit aligns well with Tissot’s sponsorship portfolio as they are an official sponsor of the International Ice Hockey Federation.
Sponsorship of a Hall of Fame can provide brands with an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to the sport or demonstrate their image as a prestigious brand. However, for brands to fully leverage their sponsorship, they must look beyond the museum walls in their approach to activation.