The NHL season is almost halfway done, with playoffs starting in a few short weeks. The 2021 season has looked a little different than years past due to COVID — fewer games, in-stadium seat covers, minimal to no fans (depending on the city), and four divisions (North, West, Central & East). And, we’d be remiss to not call out the NHL’s newest accessory – the helmet sponsor.
The New Jersey Devils were the first team to announce their helmet sponsor on December 22, 2020 (Prudential). Over the next month, the 30 other teams signed on partners. Here’s a breakdown of the NHL helmet-sponsor ecosystem with a few examples.
- Twenty out of 31 teams’ helmet sponsors are also the naming rights sponsor
– Vancouver Canucks x Rogers
– Chicago Blackhawks x United Airlines
- Ten out of 31 teams have two helmet sponsors
– San Jose Sharks x SAP & Zoom
– Vegas Golden Knights x Allegiant Airlines & Credit One Bank
- The top helmet sponsor categories are financial, healthcare, and telecom
– Financial: Boston Bruins x TD Bank; Detroit Red Wings x United Wholesale Mortgage
– Healthcare: Columbus Blue Jackets x OhioHealth; Tampa Bay Lightning x Tampa General Hospital
– Telecom: Dallas Stars x At&T; Winnipeg Jets x Bell
Hockey is the fifth most tracked sport in Blinkfire year-to-date, so needless to say, we have quite a lot of hockey data to consume, benchmark, and produce insights.
We also work with quite a few NHL teams, and our Customer Success team is beyond knowledgeable when it comes to any and all content and sponsorship exposure. With the addition of helmet sponsors, brands are literally in the game and on the move for three periods. Yes, the helmet can be a tricky asset when it comes to glare, size of logo, and color schemes, but the added value it’s bringing teams is undeniable.
Our CS team put together a playlist of some of the NHL’s Greatest Hits: Helmet Sponsor Edition accompanied by best practice nuggets. We thought about NFT’ing these best practices, but maybe next time.
Helmet Sponsor Best Practices
We’re seeing four main content trends where helmet sponsors are receiving valuable brand exposure. Most NHL teams use a combination of these best practices when posting across social media.
Close up shots – Goal Celebrations, in-game headshots
With the fast-paced nature of a game, it can be hard to get great “in the moment” photos like a goal celebration or in-game headshots. If you’re lucky enough to get up close and personal after a hat trick, try to get that helmet sponsor in the frame. Your sponsor will thank you. The Vancouver Canucks snapped the perfect goal celebration post with Rogers on the helmet. And, the Washington Capitals do one of the best jobs in the league with in-game headshots and incorporating helmet sponsor Capital One.
Close up shots – Practice
Social media teams and photographers have A LOT more freedom during practice because, well, it’s practice. Create an inventory of practice shots where the helmet sponsor is visible. The Philadelphia Flyers are doing a fantastic job, as shown below, with helmet sponsor Tata Consultancy Services. Bonus points: Practice jersey sponsor AAA and apparel sponsor adidas get exposure as well.
Player Headshots: Score, game previews, lineup, birthday, quote graphics
Most teams use specific scenes during a season like score, game preview, quote, and birthday posts, and they often include players. But, there are times those players aren’t giving exposure to sponsors, whether on the uniform or helmet. Create a bucket of player images and repurpose them, similar to the Ottawa Senators wishing Christian Wolanin a Happy Birthday. Fun fact: Birthday posts are one of the most engaged with pieces of content across the NHL, NBA, MLS, NFL, and MLB.
Player Updates: Injuries, trades/signings, stats, rookie, debuts, milestones
During an NHL season, there are opportunities to use player images on content like player stats, milestones, and game debuts. The great aspect about these types of posts (similar to game previews, score, birthday) is that you can have an inventory of player images. The below player stats image from the Pittsburgh Penguins recognizing Sydney Crosby 1,000-game milestone is well-executed: PCA Bank receives active exposure, and helmet sponsor PPG Paints receives passive exposure.
Other notable mentions
While we don’t condone fighting, a good ole’ fisticuff on the hockey rink is hard to turn away from — whether IRL or on social media. The Dallas Stars captured this scuffle when they played the Chicago Blackhawks. Win-win for both teams, as United Airlines and AT&T received exposure.
While not as high energy as watching a brawl on ice, aerial images of players on the bench are another good content hack. The Edmonton Oilers earned an A+ on this post with Rogers on the helmet and adidas on the uniform.
Stay tuned for more content from us on best practices, sponsorship, and social media.
Looking to learn more about Blinkfire and our social media and sponsorship products? Contact us today!