Every year, the NHL recognizes individual team marketing campaigns that break the mold. These campaigns go outside the penalty box to expand the NHL’s reach into the North American sports consciousness, raising the sport’s profile and roping in thousands of new fans who, once they are suckered in by the initial gimmick, will surely become lifelong revenue sources.This year, the winning campaign was from the Phoenix Coyotes. Their campaign, centered around “Pierre the Fanatic Hockey Snowman” (pictured above) has led to the Coyotes averaging 14,616 in attendance thus far in 2007-08, good for 29th-best in the league. Congratulations?
Would it be rude of me to point out that in 2006-07 the Coyotes actually had a slightly higher average attendance (14,988)? And that they were actually 24th overall? Not having actually seen any of Pierre’s shenanigans, I can’t say for sure, but it appears as if he actually drove away several hundred fans a night. And I think I know why.
There is no snow in Phoenix. Ever. Snow frightens and confuses these desert dwellers. Or, if they have moved there from colder climes, the sight of snow tends to anger and embitter them. They moved to the Valley of the Sun to get AWAY from snow. They don’t want to see snow, think about snow, or be reminded of snow in any way, unless it comes soaked in tequila and triple sec in margarita form.
Speaking of tequila, doesn’t Arizona have an enormous Latino population? (Why yes, it does!) Couldn’t some marketing genius have come up with the idea to name the wacky character Jose or Carlos (or maybe get really radical with Lupe or Alicia–girls can like hockey too)? I did, and I’m not even a marketing genius. (I’m dying to hear some marketing guru explain this without coming across as a racist tool.)
Yet, this was the kind of marketing campaign that the NHL believes ought to be recognized, rewarded and presumably emulated by any other team that believes it has a few too many fans. This season’s 24th-place attendance team is the Washington Capitals. Fortunately for Caps fans, Uncle Ted is too smart to fall for the league’s attempt to get him to promote “Omar the Fanatical Gay Hockey Jihadist” as an attendance booster.