With a professional franchise in Las Vegas, the team has had a bit of a blank canvas when it comes to sponsorship activations.
Perhaps a bit manufactured and a bit natural, fans expect extra entertainment at the National Hockey League games in Sin City —and the team has certainly followed through. When it comes to activations before, during or after the game, the goal has been to have fun, said Jim Frevola, the Golden Knights’ senior vice president and chief sales officer.
“We get more of a blank canvas to try things in Vegas than some teams are given,” Frevola said. “We make a conscious effort to fill everything with fun and excitement.”
Among a long list of partnerships that have caught the eyes of consumers, the Golden Knights’ collaboration with Topgolf might be the best example of the creativity behind the sponsorship activations at T-Mobile Arena.
The golf-game establishment — where participants aim for targets on a field — is brought to life on ice during the game’s intermissions. Fans might find themselves trying to slide a puck onto Topgolf targets projected onto the ice for a chance to win a variety of prizes.
“The best part with the partnership of Topgolf is they’re not a traditional brand sponsoring every team like a Geico, Coca-Cola or Budweiser,” Frevola said. “But they are a big, fun brand and people get excited when they hear about it. It’s a fun, natural fit that’s not seen in every arena or stadium.”
Frevola said each activation is a collaboration between the sponsorship sales team, sponsor, and in-game entertainment team with three goals. They must ensure the fan has fun, the brand is a fit, and it fits organically into the game.
Topgolf leadership members wanted to have an activation that showcased their brand. With the targets so integral to the Topgolf brand and better ice projection technology, Frevola said it was an easy connection to make.
The actual challenge isn’t all that difficult, Frevola said, as fans and the sponsors both want the fans to succeed.
“It’s not hard to do; there’s a little skill, but the hardest shot is the first one as they hone in,” Frevola said. “I’m a golfer and it’s probably easier than the real Topgolf.”’
The Golden Knights have also hit it big with several other activations, like the Krispy Kreme shutout promotion. While other teams have similar promotions, Frevola said it seems to have a life of its own in Vegas. Part of it is the fans, but a lot has to do with goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who’s given the city six shutouts this season. Following one of the wins, Fleury made his way to a Krispy Kreme.
“He really gets into it and so do the other players,” Frevola said. “The last shutout, with 35 seconds or so left, the other team pulled their goalie and [Golden Knights defenseman] Deryk Engelland took a shot off the chest to save a goal. It was 2-0; it wouldn’t have hurt. He never said it, but I think Deryk wanted some donuts.”
He also mentioned the relatively new William Hill activation, which offers fans the chance to shoot a puck across the ice for free play bets in the William Hill app.
Soon, a Zappos activation will take to the road as a “Battle Wagon.”
Out of the arena, Frevola said one of the most successful business development wins has been a partnership with Station Casinos, which offered its “Boarding Pass” members free bottles of the Golden Knights’ branded wine last season.
“It was wildly successful,” he said. “The best sponsorship activations in sports is to drive customers to a location, and they flocked in for the product.”
Even the simple things seem to be more playful in Vegas, he said. Like the penalty kill, which is sponsored by a lawyer, and the NV Energy power play.
“It’s not just one game, but couple it with a few games, a shutout, the castle, and the drum line,” he said. “Bundle all the fun together and it’s very infectious.”