Believe it or not, it pays to discover.
It was announced yesterday through a NHL.com press release that Discover Financial Services and the National Hockey League had the intention of signing a new multi-year sponsorship agreement which would name Discover as an official partner of the NHL. There was no mention as to when the new deal would be finalized or the rough terms of the contract. However, the piece was quick to mention that the branding of Discover with NHL events would know no boundaries. Events such as the NHL All-Star Weekend, the Winter Classic, the NHL Awards, and the newly minted 2011 NHL Thanksgiving Showdown will get a healthy doses of the orange ball. If you step back and look at the big picture, this partnership deal is a match made in heaven.
I'm sure that if you took a poll around the league offices, not a lot of people would beam about Discover's cash rewards program. They wouldn't try to explain Discover's interest rate charts to you. And it wouldn't be worth their time to convince you to download Discover's mobile banking application. The one thing that you would get the league to admit is that one of the main reasons why they decided to continue their partnership was because of the actual name of the financial services company. Sure, Visa or MasterCard might be more recognizable to the North American public, but their names don't carry the same amount of depth. Is this notion a bit of a stretch? I don't think so.
Pulling out a dictionary and taking the time to research the actual definition of the word 'discover' will lead you to find out that it is a verb that means to "make known or visible". For a sports league that is trying to push through the label of bottom feeders in the "big four sports" category, it is exactly the word the NHL wants to attach itself to. It is especially important this year given the fact that one of the NHL's main rivals, the National Basketball League, is neck deep in labor negotiations. Without a season and tension rising, NBA commissioner David Stern is more likely to find a Monty Python movie everyone can agree on rather than a new CBA contract (which begs the question - does the sound of clapping coconuts mirror the sound of bouncing basketballs?). This is the perfect opportunity for the NHL to break through and have new fans discover the speed and excitement of hockey. The opportunities for subliminal marketing are endless.
Luckily for the fans out there, the renewal doesn't stop at the dollar signs. Thrown into the deal as an added bonus is everyone's favorite prime credit customer service attendant - Peggy. This lovable oaf continues to rise in popularity ever since his commercial with the NHL's own Phil Pritchard. Since then, Peggy has had meaningful conversations with Bobby Bowden, Lou Holtz, and a handful of stressed out card users. This month has brought about new conversations with Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas and Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane. I would imagine that the NHL player conversation commercials will continue to the be in the works for however long the renewal contract will be. The comedic addition could be the steal of the deal if NHL pushes for usage restrictions for the character. Peggy has a chance to become the unofficial-official goof of the league.
But before we start annually welcoming Peggy into our homes and accusing him of stealing IIiya Bryzgalov's confidence, the NHL has taken the initial steps to secure a partnership deal that reflects the exact message they want to send to the general masses. It will only be a matter of time to see if they can capitalize on the monumental opportunity that lies ahead of them. Discover doesn't have to be the only company ranked #1 in customer loyalty. So ready the parade float, turn up the bright lights, and let's all get to work.