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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

New aggressive BHawks threaten Wolves

The Chicago Blackhawks are promoting themselves in a much more aggressive marketing campaign, according to a story in today’s Chicago Tribune. With a slogan of “One Goal,” the team has announced it engaged the leading advertising agency of Ogilvy & Mather. This follows the decision, last season, to hire Chicago Cubs President John McDonough as the president of the Blackhawks.

Following the success of the outdoor game between the Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins on New Year’s Day, 2008, McDonough is understood to have pitched the idea for an Original Six game between the Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings to the NHL. That game was announced at the Chicago Blackhawks first fan convention, held last weekend.

Other significant moves include the decision last season, by the BHawks, to reverse the long-held policy on television broadcasting: all Hawks games will now be broadcast. And the team has a high-quality outlet in place with WGN AM 720 broadcasting the games. Pat Foley, the team’s former broadcaster, has been hired away from the Chicago Wolves and returns to the broadcast booth too this season.

It could be the biggest turnaround ever for a sports franchise. Ridiculed for years, the team was named the worst major league franchise by Sports Illustrated. The death of team owner Bill Wirtz was met by dances and laughter on Chicago sports radio. But, now, in mid-July, the team is back in the news, with front page coverage of the new on-ice captain and a Business section front page story in the Tribune.

Proof of greater interest in the Blackhawks is also evident in the note, in the Tribune story, that season tickets increased threefold, currently to between 9,000 and 10,000 from about 3,000 – 4,000 in the previous season.

The “One Goal” mentioned in the ad? Not the playoffs, which eluded the team last season, but the Stanley Cup. It is a worthy rejoinder to the Chicago Wolves campaign reminding fans of its recent Calder Cup victory. The Tribune article, which completely forgets the Wolves, may be a warning sign to the Rosemont team: a winning Blackhawks team may eclipse the Wolves as completely as a poorly managed major league team was bested for years by a smaller, feisty minor league team.


Mike M said...

Gee, that sounds familiar? After the Bulldogs won the Calder Cup their thunder was stolen from them just a day or two later with the news the Predators would be sold and relocated to Hamilton.

Patrick Kissane said...

Mike M,

I know. The Bulldogs showed that the city can support a team. Then everyone paid attention to the NHL bid. A bid, I think, that was doomed from the start.

Although your venue is old, it is still a great place to watch hockey.

I for one wish the Leafs would allow Hamilton to have a team. That part of Canada can support a third team-- look at how many football teams are in the New York metro area, or how many baseball teams are supported in places like New York, LA and Chicago.

Having three teams within bus league distance of each other should help everyone. And the heart of hockey is in Canada. What better place for another team?

But I forget- commercial support.

It is a great idea, introduced at the wrong time for the Bulldogs, and sadly doomed due to the Leafs and the NHL executive staff.