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Whistler Blackcomb reaches out to NHL sponsors

With no end to lockout in sight, WB offers prime spot on Whistler Village Gondola

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Everyone in Canada knows hockey is the number one game in town — every town in every province for roughly nine months of the year. It dominates sports and news coverage, and every arena from Montreal to Vancouver is sold out almost every game.

So when the NHL owners locked out the players before the start of the 2012-2013 season, there's no question that all of the league's sponsors were hard hit, losing out on a prime avenue for reaching the public. To help out, Whistler Blackcomb is offering those sponsors a chance to reach over 2.6 million visitors this year with a free marketing promotion.

"We didn't name the NHL in our promotion, but we just love hockey and we love our sponsors," said Stuart Rempel, senior vice president of marketing and sales at Whistler Blackcomb. "It's kind of a tongue-in-cheek offer, which is kind of our brand character. We're a little bit playful and irreverent, and we do like to have fun because that's what we sell, we sell fun.

"At the same time we do know that hockey sponsorship is a big deal in Canada, and there have been articles in The Globe and Mail where the sponsors are wringing their hands, not knowing how they're going to reach customers."

Rempel pointed out that Whistler Blackcomb already has a lot of solid sponsors, including Telus, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Labbat and Nintendo, and that they're looking for more sponsors in areas like consumer electronics and banking. Those sponsors benefit from 2.6 million visitors to the resort, and from the opportunity to activate within the resort's boundaries. For example, Coca-Cola sponsors the tube park while Nintendo sponsors terrain parks and GM sponsors the race centre.

The free sponsor package has a value of roughly $25,000 said Rempel, and will include a Whistler Village Gondola Wrap with the sponsor's logo, an experimental sampling day for the sponsor and 10 winter lift tickets for staff or promotions.

To qualify, the sponsors have to submit their argument, 100 words or less, why they should be considered for this promotion. Amber Sigurdson at TwentyTenGroup will collect the entries at auburn@twentytengroup.com by 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 7. The wrap will be in place from Dec. 1 through to June 1.

Rempel explained that they were looking for a sponsor that didn't compete with their existing sponsors and that aligns with Whistler Blackcomb's own character and values. "We're always careful not to partner with brands that don't make sense," he said.

Meanwhile, in other gondola related Whistler Blackcomb news, plans are coming together for an opening day "Wonder-Full Gondolas" promotion to tie in with Whistler Blackcomb's new "Wonder" themed program for this season. There are no details available yet, but the promotion will include prizes, live music and other events to celebrate the start of the season.

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