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An Evening With The Florida Panthers

March 4, 2011

Last night, I had the opportunity to watch the Florida Panthers take on the Montreal Canadians from the owner’s box at the BankAtlantic Center. This was a special evening, and before I get into my thoughts, I would like to thank Ben Sturner, CEO of Leverage Agency, for inviting me to be his guest and Michael Yormark, President and COO of Sun Sports & Entertainment, and his executives for being fantastic hosts.

The evening was an opportunity to be a fly on the wall and listen to the ongoing discussion about the arena, sponsorship, activation, and ticket sales. Besides enjoying the game from the owner’s box, we were also given a tour of the arena. I have to admit that I am often skeptical of the value of signage at an arena or stadium, but what I learned is that I cannot focus purely on the signage. I have to look at the whole sponsorship package and realize that one sign on the boards or near the scoreboard is just a part of the overall activation for the sponsorship. The activation of the sponsorship should be the focus rather than one small element.

To continue my New Year’s Resolution of focusing on sports sponsorships, I wanted to mention three of my favorite ones from last night.

ADT Security Services

ADT Security Services is one of the Pillar Partners of Florida Panthers hockey and the BankAtlantic Center, and the company has coverage throughout the arena. My two favorite activation points were the elevator shaft and the ADT Club. The elevator shaft is at the front of the arena where more than 95% of people enter. The shaft is open to the lobby, so it is one of those designs where people can see the elevator going up and down. Instead of a plain steel casing, the shaft is branded from top to bottom with ADT signage. It’s large and in your face. I think that people find open elevators very interesting. They’re always eye catching, so I thought that a top to bottom ADT sign was a unique way to bring eyes to ADT. The ADT Club was also very impressive, and we saw it during our tour. The club is designed to be comfortable and spacious containing many places to sit, relax, and enjoy the game while eating from the buffet. It’s a great game experience that is well executed. Although the club is not unique to the BankAtlantic Center, it is a great example of the breadth of coverage that ADT has at the arena for their investment. From simple signage to unique coverage such as the elevator shaft to traditional sponsorship such as the club, ADT permeates through the arena, and the visitor knows that the company is an important part of BankAtlantic Arena’s business.

HH Gregg

HH Gregg sells appliances and electronics through their website and in brick and mortar stores. HH Gregg is a new sponsor and has an impressive activation at the arena. The company is opening its first store in Florida at the BankAtlantic Center in a large open area. There will be appliances and electronics right in the arena that people will pass as they go to their seats, get food, or use the restroom. People are always interested in appliances and electronics – the new television, the cheapest washer/dryer, the coolest new camera. Especially during intermissions, this could be a fantastic stop for people to play with new toys. It’s a great idea by HH Gregg and the Florida Panthers to use valuable real estate in a productive way.

Party City

Party City is a party supply store and a prominent sponsor at the BankAtlantic Center during Panthers games. What I think is most effective about Party City’s activation is that it is loud and visible. Party City’s activation is probably what I would desire if I were an executive investing money in a sports property because it touches the senses more effectively and thus commits more to memory. Two elements of the activation strategy stand out. First, there is some variation of “Party Time” with Party City. I actually don’t remember the exact phrasing, but that’s not always the most important part, right? What’s most important is that I remember the company’s name and the sights and sounds during the memory stand out. There’s a clever line stated over the PA and the crowd gets excited. Sight and sound are being activated. Second, sight is again stimulated by the unique television screens that the BankAtlantic Arena has between the first and second levels. On these screens Party City has colorful, flashing signage, so I am hearing fans cheering and seeing bright signage that is active on a screen rather than stagnant. Like any good party, Party City focuses on having fun, loud, and sensory activation.

The opportunity to meet these executives and engage them in conversation was truly extraordinary. I learned a lot, and I understand sponsorship and activation much better after the experience. The greatest lesson I learned was to look at the big picture.

– Jason


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