Event Marketing: Inline heats up

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.

Kids say inline is ‘fast, fun and cool’; retailers boast it’s ‘equipment-intensive, driven by manufacturers and retailers, and marked by increased customer visits.’

This sport could be the next craze to sweep North America.

Inline skate sales are $665 million in North America in 1994 – a 700% growth from 1990.

Of the 12.6 million inline skaters in North America, 15% are participating in the fastest growing niche of this explosive market: inline hockey.

Inline hockey targets all ages, but 65% of the participants lie in the elusive-yet-desirable six- to 17-year-old target group.

Unlike most traditional sports, inline hockey’s growth has been filtered down from the elite level to the grassroots level.

On the professional front, two roller hockey leagues were established in 1993 which have amalgamated to form the North American Roller Hockey International league (rhi.)

The rhi went from 12 teams in 1993 to 24 teams in 1994. This year’s lineup includes such teams as the Montržal Roadrunners, Sacramento River Rats and Anaheim Bullfrogs.

A Canadian rhi team that demonstrates inline hockey’s potential national growth is the Vancouver VooDoo.

The team established the VooDoo Minor Hockey Association presented by Subway in 1993, with 1,250 kids signing up.

The league is currently having difficulty meeting the demand of its amateur adult and minor inline hockey leagues, with 5,000 participants in the minor leagues alone in 1995.

Amateur organizations are now trying to tap into this ever increasing demand for inline leagues.

In 1973, the Canadian Federation of Amateur Roller Skaters (cfars) was established as the National Sport Governing Body for all aspects of roller skating in Canada.

cfars is currently a member of the Canadian Olympic Association.

The National Inline Hockey Association (niha) was established in the u.s. in 1992 and expanded into Canada in April of 1994.

The niha expects to have 15,000 members registered in Canada for this summer.

Upcoming events

The rhi has put together a television package in the u.s. that includes 18 original games this year on espn and ESPN2.

The first two league sponsorships have been sold at $400,000 each to two units of PepsiCo: Pepsi-Cola and Taco Bell.

Marketing Director David McLane is entering talks with tsn and rds for broadcast opportunities. Sponsorship opportunities in Vancouver, Montržal and Calgary are available as well as national sponsorship for tsn coverage.

For further information, contact Jay Coleman at (203) 327-6545.

The Triple Crown Street Hockey Festival will be visiting 10 Canadian cities this summer. The festival will feature inline hockey and street hockey tournaments.

For further information, contact Joe Demizio at (905) 374-8822.

YTV BladeJam, sponsored by Rollerblade, is a high energy inline show and series of clinics scheduled to appear at major fairs and high traffic events.

YTV BladeJam will embark on a five-city tour across Canada this summer with various sponsorship packages still available.

For more information, contact Grail Hartdegen at (416) 534-1191.

The National Hockey League, embarking on a major grassroots marketing program, is launching the NHL Breakout ’95 with Nike, Canstar, Coca-Cola, Hyper-Wheels and Sports Illustrated for Kids as major sponsors.

The tour will visit eight North American nhl cities including one Canadian stop in Toronto and will feature four-on-four plus goalies round robin inline roller hockey as well as street hockey, exciting demonstrations, player appearances, live music and great family entertainment.

For further information, contact Ken Yaffe at (212) 789-2034.

Keep your eyes open for Rollerblade’s Roll Patrol as it descends on various communities and events across Canada promoting inline skating and hockey as well as providing demonstrations and products that can be tested by local consumers.

To book the vehicle or get more information, call 1-800-661-ROLL, ext. 310.