Geico, NHL Reach Sponsorship Deal

Just days after throwing its support behind the NHL Winter Classic game in Boston, Geico has upped its commitment, signing on as the official insurance partner of the National Hockey League.

Brokered by Geico agency Horizon Media, the partnership includes national TV inventory on NBC throughout the regular season and Stanley Cup playoffs. The sponsorship also includes a mix of media delivered via the NHL Network and NHL.com, along with exposure in a number of team venues.

Before signing with the league, Geico had already sponsored 17 of the 24 U.S.-based NHL teams.

“We’re excited to become a partner and create this association with the National Hockey League,” said Bill Brower, Geico’s director of advertising. “The recent Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, with a special appearance by the Caveman, was a great way to kick off a successful partnership through the rest of the season.”

(Before the first puck dropped, an actor portraying one of Geico’s aggrieved spokes-cavemen appeared on the ice, attempting to clear a patch with a shovel.)

The pact marks the first time Geico has aligned itself with a national sports franchise. Financial terms of the deal, which runs through the 2010-11 campaign, were not disclosed.

First introduced by the league in 2008, the annual Winter Classic pits two teams against each other in an outdoor venue. This year’s Bruins-Flyers battle drew 38,112 fans to Fenway Park on New Year’s Day, and NBC’s telecast posted a 2.6 overnight rating, making it the second most-watched regular season game since 1996.

Last year’s Penguins-Sabres duel notched a 2.9 overnight, per Nielsen.

While the the 2009-10 season began some three months ago, it’s no accident that the activation kicked into gear on the heels of the high-profile Winter Classic event. “With hockey viewership trending up and the emergence of the League’s young stars, the timing was ideal,” said Charlie Legg, account supervisor at Horizon Media.

The biggest spender among insurance providers, Geico in 2008 invested $622.7 million in measured media, per TNS Media Intelligence. Approximately 35 percent of the company’s TV spend is devoted to high-profile sporting events, including NFL and college football games.