From sports cars to motorsports, automakers spend a lot of time and money emphasizing their products’ performance. Which makes sense, as this country’s overall interest in all things athletic is huge and growing.
For example, Honda just re-signed as the official vehicle of the National Hockey League (NHL), giving us an opportunity to check out all the current key players in the “big four” U.S. sports.
Hockey Helps Honda Achieve Its Goals
Now in its ninth season as the NHL’s official vehicle, Honda revealed the latest extension of its sponsorship at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show in November. There, the company announced it also would continue as the title sponsor for the upcoming NHL All-Star Game, which is scheduled for Jan. 29, 2017, at L.A.’s Staples Center. This will include sponsoring the “Honda NHL Breakaway Challenge” for players during the all-star weekend, as well as presenting a new 2017 Honda Ridgeline to the All-Star MVP.
Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky was on hand at Honda’s auto-show exhibit for the news, and the Great One had this to say about the deal: “The NHL All-Star Game and the NHL All-Star Skills Competition are the greatest showcases of hockey talent in the world and I’m excited to have the game and fan events in my home of Los Angeles. With the Honda Ridgeline truck going to the most valuable player, I’m tempted to wear number 99 to win the award.”
The Ridgeline’s role as the official vehicle of the all-star game also will be complemented by a strong Honda presence throughout the NHL season. Thus, fans of the fastest game on ice will be able to see Honda vehicles at events like the 2017 All-Star Weekend, including the annual Fan Fair; the Winter Classic, being held outdoors at Busch Stadium in St Louis; the Centennial Classic, celebrating 100 years of the NHL; and the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Ford Touts Toughness with Football Partnership
When GMC and the National Football League (NFL) went their separate ways after the 2014 season, that left the road clear for a particularly apt partnership between the most popular sport in the United States and the country’s most popular pickup truck. That would be the Ford F-Series, now in its rookie season as the official truck of the NFL.
The theme here is toughness. For instance, each week of the regular season, the company will honor the Built Ford Tough Offensive Line of the Week. But the Blue Oval also has an especially fan-focused approach to its sponsorship. Instead of giving a truck to a player, the automaker will deliver a team-themed 2017 Ford F-Series Super Duty pickup to the winner of its Toughest Ticket sweepstakes, as well as two tickets to Super Bowl LI.
Also in the Ford playbook is the Tailgate Trucks on Demand program. Available for a limited number of NFL cities, this initiative will let a limited number of fans order an all-inclusive game-day package from Uber, complete with two tickets, a $100 NFL Shop gift card, and a tailgate party presided over by a professional chef.
Look for Hyundais – and Others – on Sundays, Too
Yes, the F-Series is the official truck of the NFL. Hyundai, however, also happens to be an “official automotive sponsor” of the league. The automaker launched its partnership last year, and for the 2016 season, Hyundai is relying heavily on social media to connect with fans. Both a Facebook-based, friend vs. friend challenge, and a sweepstakes supported by two Twitter hashtags – #BecauseFootball and #HyundaiSweepstakes – will further supply some lucky winners with tickets to Super Bowl LI.
Meanwhile, the brand’s real-world presence will be felt at NFL events such as the Super Bowl, the playoffs, the NFL combine and the NFL draft.
The Song Remains the Same for Baseball Fans
Readers of a certain age may remember the old jingle about “baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet,” and the Bowtie brand does indeed continue as the official automotive sponsor of Major League Baseball (MLB) today. Of course, it might be hard to beat the excitement of the previous season. This past fall, when representatives delivered a 2017 Chevrolet Camaro 50th Anniversary Edition to World Series MVP Ben Zobrist of the Chicago Cubs, it capped off that team’s first such title in more than a century.
Yet Chevrolet’s latest MLB contract actually has some notable new elements. Chief among them will be the brand’s additional role as the official automotive sponsor of the Play Ball initiative, which is a project backed by MLB and USA Baseball (the national governing body for amateur baseball in this country). The Play Ball effort will extend Chevrolet’s ongoing support for grassroots, youth-oriented baseball opportunities.
The brand also remains committed to the Chevy Youth Baseball community outreach that, per Chevrolet, has donated more than 90,000 equipment kits and renovated 9,400 parks in the past decade.
Kia Nets More Exposure with Basketball Sponsorship
All basketball fans know that history was made earlier this year, after LeBron James led the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first National Basketball Association (NBA) championship. But what you may not realize is that the NBA also marked an important milestone a few months before that. In February, for the first time ever, ad patches had appeared on jerseys in an NBA game.
It was at the All-Star Game no less and represented a sponsorship breakthrough for Kia, the official automotive partner of the NBA since 2008. Naturally, the brand also has the official vehicle of the NBA, the Kia Optima, and the company puts a charitable spin on the whole “vehicle giveaway” concept. Like some other sport sponsors, Kia awards vehicles as part of its awards presentations. Kia, though, doesn’t give them to the players. It gives them to the players’ favorite charities. So when Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors won his second straight Kia NBA MVP Award at the end of the 2015-2016 season, a Kia Sorento was sent in his name to Covenant House California, a nonprofit organization helping at-risk youth.