Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 47 seconds

The XFL's approach to marketing and advertising, as well as the fast moving marketing department of the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes offers valuable insights for marketing professionals.

ice hockey 405528 640smallThe Hurricanes, for its part, seized on a truly unique marketing opportunity recently when an “emergency goalie” was plucked from the stands and helped lead the team to a 6-3 victory. So reports Front Office Sports.

Dave Ayres, 42, is the first emergency goalie in history to record a win in the NHL. After both of the Hurricanes’ goalies were injured in the game, they were forced to turn to the emergency goalie. The NHL requires home teams to provide an emergency goalie—someone who can fill in for the remainder of the game—if one team’s goalies are injured during the game.

In this instance, Ayres, a zamboni driver for a minor league hockey team, served as the emergency goalie for the game, which was played in Toronto.

Not long after Ayres got the call, the Hurricanes’ marketing team shifted into full gear. Within an hour of the game ending, the Hurricanes had a t-shirt jersey with Ayres’ name and number for sale on its website. By early the next day, more than 3,000 has been sold in seven different countries.

As part of its marketing efforts, the Hurricanes shared a postgame locker room video and increased the number of its social posts. “It might look reactive, but there are proactive elements because you never know what might happen and you have to be prepared for the unexpected and I feel like we were with the right people there and people prepared here,” says Mike Forman, Hurricanes vice president of marketing and brand strategy.

XFL Pushing the Boundaries for Advertisers

In its first game, viewers likely noticed the Dallas Renegades players had ads for Bud Light Seltzer on their helmets. In contrast, the more established NFL does not allow advertisements on its helmets. So reports Variety. Another team, meanwhile, sent out a video, via social media, of a post-game celebration featuring the hard seltzer.

“The XFL’s willingness to put Bud Light Seltzer logos on the backs of helmets doesn’t surprise me in the least. It’s consistent with the league’s receptiveness and openness to be innovative and different,” says Patrick Rishe, director of the sports business program at Washington University in St. Louis, in the Variety article. “Don’t be surprised if the NFL adopts a similar strategy within three years.”

Anheuser-Busch InBev executives say the XFL is trying to gain ground against the NFL and is therefore presenting brands with unique opportunities to market their products.

Similar approaches are likely to become more prevalent within sporting events. That’s because younger viewers are growing accustomed to watching videos online with few or no ads. At the same time, big advertisers still want to push their messages out to these potentially large audiences.

“Emerging and secondary leagues often serve as marketing laboratories, as less controversy tends to follow their revenue producing efforts,” says David Carter, a professor of sports business at USC’s Marshall School of Business, according to the Variety article. “They serve as a fan- and brand-oriented, real time focus group whereby trial balloons can be launched. If or when any dissent is raised and addressed, these changes make take permanent hold with more established leagues.” 

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