Islanders Blackberry Deal Makes For Strange Bedfellows

Last week the revenue starved New York Islanders reached a one-year wireless deal with Blackberry to sponsor the chance to text its prized top draft pick John Tavares. On the surface, it sounds like a good integrated sponsorship deal that adds value for both sides – good marketing for the team, promoting its new star and providing a platform to connect him with fans, while Blackberry gives an exclusive to owners of the device and another channel to promote its product to a key target audience in the ever-competitive smart phone market.

Digging slightly deeper, it’s a deal between an owner indirectly threatening the league to move his team due to mounting financial losses and an inability to get approval to build a stadium, and a CEO currently battling the league in court over the future of another financially doomed NHL team. Though it’s tough to question the deal, which also includes some Blackberry promotions linked to on ice performance and ticket giveaways at retail outlets, however its at least somewhat ironic that these two particular businessmen linked up on deal.

From a pure sports sponsorship perspective, the deal should actually be lauded and held as an example of good product integration into sports. It’s a strategic business partnership between two partners who have aligned goals. Balsillie could make things even more interesting than they already are by signing a slew of deals with NHL teams, smattering his company all over the league then using it as a mini-platform to continue to get his message out.

Would be interesting, just saying…

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