Spot the difference from my view of the Ottawa Senators vs Montreal Canadiens game last night:

1st Period in front of Canadiens Bench

1st Period

2nd Period

2nd Period

For those who don’t know, Ottawa didn’t have a (modern) NHL team until 1992. Like most Ottawans who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, I support the Montreal Canadiens. So I was surprised last night that on a night with decent weather, attendance was 10% under capacity. And I think the answer is linked to the two images above.

1. The boards are not just plastered with advertiser logos, but many of the logos are changed during the two intermissions. Viagra only lasts for one period (apologies), and Pfizer probably pays about 50% of the full game charge. The Senators make more money from more advertisers by pasting new ads onto the boards during the intermissions.

2. During those intermissions, rather than letting people relax, the big screen and sound system feature a charity puck shot sponsored by Minto, and a Zamboni ride sponsored by Greenwood homes, and an interview with some girl about how loud the Sens Army sponsored by Pizza Pizza should say “Go Sens Go”. I can’t promise I got the brands right, and that’s the point – it’s brand-sensory-overload, when all you want to do is enjoy the game (or talk to your companion or neighbour).

3. During the TV commercial breaks, they feature some other interviews and featurettes sponsored by another 20 brands.

4. The ice has four advertiser logos

When I asked the lady in the Senators jersey next to me whether they have this much advertising at every game, she said “well they have to pay for their players somehow.” I thought that was what the $100 tickets and TV money were for.

“Well it’s not as bad as NBA basketball – that’s much worse.”

I responded “No it’s not, I went to see the Knicks last year and there was mostly a game.  Even the Rangers and the Devils don’t have this much brain noise at the game”

She surprised me with “At least our players don’t wear logos on their shirts like in European soccer.” I guess the logo is sacred, but the rest of the experience is fair game.

I blame the Senators / Scotiabank Centre marketing department, and their bosses. When marketing sales teams are rewarded solely on revenue, they squeeze every drop of brand juice into every possible advertising / promotional outlet. The overall brand experience suffers deeply.

If you split the marketing team’s bonus structure to 50% revenue and 50% customer / fan satisfaction (with various parts of the experience), they’ll be forced to find the right balance so fans won’t have to endure the marketing barrage. After all, the product (frame of reference) is supposed to be a hockey team playing and winning hockey games.

The game was great for me. Montreal won.

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