Via Sports Business Journal
In the age of the pandemic, call it the promotion that had to happen. The Florida Panthers and Baptist Health, the team’s sports medicine and orthopedics sponsor, are teaming up for a gate premium later this month — a co-branded COVID mask. We believe that “Wear a Mask Night” on April 19, when the Panthers will host the Columbus Blue Jackets, is an industry first, but since we’ve long held that marketers duplicate far more than they originate, we can be sure it won’t be the last one.
BB&T Center still has a limited capacity of around 4,600, but all fans in attendance that night will get the mask, which comes from direct marketing firm DME, Daytona Beach.
Baptist spends enough supporting its Panthers sponsorship that it is the presenting sponsor of the team’s pregame show on Bally Sports Florida and has its brand on their practice jerseys and helmets. “Since before play resumed, we knew Baptist Health was the right partner to help navigate fans’ safe return to our arena,” said Shawn Thornton, Panthers vice president, business operations. “We wanted to do their game-presenting sponsorship with some innovation.”
There are several adroit tie-ins for this promo, engineered by Aquarius Sports & Entertainment, the longtime sports agency for Baptist Health. Primarily, it supports BH’s “Mask Up” campaign, which has been ongoing since the NHL resumed play. On-site, frontline health care workers in attendance will be recognized throughout the game. A goalie mask to be worn that day in warmups, and possibly during the game, by Florida netminder Chris Driedger will feature a customized paint job that honors health care workers; it will later be auctioned off, with proceeds going to the Baptist Health and Florida Panthers foundations.
Aquarius Sports President Marc Bluestein lauded the cooperative effort that tied together the various portions of the promo, including game presentation and the team’s equipment staff, as well as the league — which had to approve the mask design — and the various media partners involved that will mention the mask on TV and radio.
As for the likely imitators of the “Wear a Mask Night” promo? “I’m just going to consider any knockoffs as nothing but flattery,” chuckled Thornton.