Posted by Barry Silverstein on September 23, 2010 12:00 PM
It's amazing to what lengths car companies will go to get their brands in front of audiences. We've seen them on television shows and in movies as "props" (or as stars, in the case of such movies as The Italian Job, which spawned a subsequent MINI ad).
Now, we get to see cars on ice, so to speak. Volkswagen has struck a deal with the National Hockey League's New York Rangers that includes placement of the VW logo on the ice at the famed Madison Square Garden. The German automaker will also get to display its cars at the Garden and be part of a fan contest during the intermission of Rangers games.
There's more: fans will see the VW logo gracing a Zamboni, the machine that smooths the ice, and Volkswagen will have a prominent placement on the MSG Network, the Garden's television network.
Ben Freidson, Volkswagen's sports marketing manager, tells Marketing Daily that the Rangers and Madison Square Garden were a good fit because the brand is strong in the tri-state area (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut). Hockey, he says, "is very similar to soccer. Fans live and die by the sport. And there's an intense loyalty to brands that support the sport."
Sports marketing is a key part of Volkswagen's strategy. The company also sponsors the DC United soccer team in Washington, DC and has a relationship with the NBA's Washington Wizards and the Verizon Center in that same city.
Freidson says VW dealers are integrated into the sports marketing program as well, so that "when people go into dealerships they will see Ranger-wrapped Volkswagen vehicles, point-of-sale materials. We are definitely pushing our 40-plus dealers in this area to leverage this because that's where these sponsorships become successful. ... we have very aggressive goals and we want people to have us top of mind when they are making decisions."
"Aggressive goals" is an understatement. As we recently reported, Volkswagen has set its sights on becoming the world's leading automaker by 2018. That means tripling US sales, something skeptical industry experts think won't happen.
But right now, at least, Volkswagen is making a play for sports fans at select venues around the U.S., ultimately hoping to score a big win.