Event Marketing: New opportunities in figure skating

Michael Lang is president of Lang & Associates, a Toronto-based international event marketing agency with offices in Vancouver, Montreal and Atlanta.Kirsten Armitage is an account executive with Lang & Associates, and co-ordinator for the Event Marketing column. Contributions, ideas, media releases...

Michael Lang is president of Lang & Associates, a Toronto-based international event marketing agency with offices in Vancouver, Montreal and Atlanta.

Kirsten Armitage is an account executive with Lang & Associates, and co-ordinator for the Event Marketing column. Contributions, ideas, media releases and feedback should be directed to Kirsten at (416) 229-0060 or fax (416) 229-1210.

The figure skating marketplace has never been more vibrant.

The sport, as a whole, is undergoing some drastic changes right now: the increasing number of events; the explosion of televised events; the continuing shift from Canadian Figure Skating Association-(cfsa)sanctioned events to professional competitions and entertainment properties, and rule changes allowing reinstatement of professionals to compete against amateurs in World and Olympic competition.

The growing concern for the state of figure skating was highly profiled in 1994.

With the lure of money from professional tours and shows, sanctioned events are facing stiff competition from the star-studded shows.

Fortunately for the cfsa, the national governing body for amateur figure skating, the profile and calibre of its stars, such as Elvis Stojko and Shae-Lynn Bourne & Victor Kraatz, attract large arena and tv audiences.

The ’94/’95 professional hockey lockout and baseball strike, combined with Fox Television’s entry into football have had an impact on the growing number and popularity of figure skating events on television.

The absence of games has left programming holes, creating opportunities to develop more made-for-tv figure skating shows and allow new sponsors into the sport.

One example is The Gold Championship, a pro-competition offering prize money of $1.3 million, which was held in Edmonton last November.

Despite these changes, figure skating holds a dominant position as one of the most popular sports Canadians enjoy and provides a number of positive characteristics which attract corporations to the sport.

It enjoys a high participation and spectator base. Adults 18+ who actively participate in ice skating number 4.8 million. Spectators are 79% female, with 64% between the ages of 25-54.

Importantly, the sport has a good, respectable image. Canada’s National Team members have a high profile and continue to rank high internationally, providing Canadian corporations with marketing opportunities.

Companies interested in developing ties to figure skating must be prepared to invest significant dollars, commit to a long-term investment to maximize returns, and develop solid business relationships with key players.

The following is an overview of the key players in the Canadian figure skating marketplace:

img has a stronghold on the professional/amateur market worldwide.

It is the official marketing company for the International Skating Union, (isu) controlling its television and marketing rights (i