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Wings, Amway make history

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – The Red Wings and Amway took their relationship to a new historic level Thursday when it was announced that the Ada, Michigan-based company will be a presenting sponsor of the Original Six club for at least the next three seasons.

The Amway partnership marks the first time in the Wings’ 86-year history that the NHL organization will have a presenting sponsor, with the Amway logo seen almost as prominently as the Winged Wheel in all team advertising, branding and marketing materials.
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The new agreement is built upon last season’s initial partnership, which was highlighted by the Amway logo featured on the Wings’ official practice jerseys and pucks.

“Last year, we kind of put our toes in the water here by having some minor involvement; very positive,” said Steve Lieberman, vice president and senior director for Amway North America. “The Red Wings are an iconic franchise. We believe that we’re an iconic business. So that was really the beginning tie that bound us together.

“We weren’t just looking for a sponsorship. We were looking for a partnership. It’s easy to just have a financial relationship, put your name on someone else’s intellectual property and claim that you have a partnership. But that’s not at all what we were looking for.

“We’re attaching our logo to their iconic logo. Our logo will be on the ice and all around the scoreboards. We’ll be on the tickets and the brochures, and a lot of the community outreach. It will pretty much be ‘Detroit Red Wings presented by Amway’. That’s a pretty tie.”

The new agreement will involve substantial in-arena branding initiatives, as well as an eclectic mix of innovative and interactive components designed to enhance the overall fan experience at Joe Louis Arena and in the community. Some key components of the announcement today were: that the Wings Red & White preseason scrimmage will return to Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids on Sept. 27; and Nutrilite, Amway’s sports nutrition products, will be the official vitamin and supplement of the Red Wings.

“What you find when you do a presenting sponsor is if you have the same type of company that has the same goals and objectives as you have, you can kind of bounce ideas off of each other, particularly when it comes to doing things out in the community,” said Tom Wilson, president of Olympia Entertainment.

“The logo is attached to ours when we do print advertising or if we do a television spot when they say, ‘Detroit Red Wings hockey presented by Amway’,” Wilson said. “We will be joined very, very closely. It won’t impact anything other than to bring the two brands closer together. … We expect to be together for a long, long time.”

Beginning in October, Amway will provide every “Season Ticket Holder of the Game” with a gift pack of Nutrilite and Artistry products, and every member of the Detroit Red Wings Kids Club with a Nutrilite children’s vitamin package. Other Amway promotional activities will include a Johan Franzen bobblehead giveaway to the first 7,500 fans in attendance at the Dec. 8 home game against Phoenix. In addition, Amway will present the Wings’ Facebook Fan of the Day as well as each of the team’s live social media events, such as Tweetups.

“Having worked together for a year, we really had a great partnership,” Lieberman said. “And as things developed, we realized that we run in the same space. We’re a big sponsor of the Boys & Girls Clubs; they’re involved in Boys & Girls Clubs. We believe in health and nutrition; they go around to schools and talk about health and nutrition. It just made sense, and the fact that we’re both Michigan companies, and both family-run and family-owned, just gave us more of a tie than anything else.”

The Wings and Amway will team-up in a cross-state community-based initiative that will benefit kids who participate in local Boys and Girls Clubs of America in Detroit and Grand Rapids. The program will give children the opportunity to attend Wings games and practices at JLA.
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“For fans it will be a season-long, sort of, unveiling of things,” Wilson said. “It can be ticket offers. It can be giveaways at the games. It can be nutritional contests. If you’re watching the games at home there will be certain prizes that will be given out for trivia contests. So it will impact everything that we do.”

For years, Amway has made its presence felt in the sports and entertainment industry, and co-founder Richard DeVos, and his family, have owned the NBA’s Orlando Magic since 1991. Amway also holds the naming-rights to the Magic’s Florida home, Amway Center, and they are a presenting sponsor to the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer (MLS).

“Around the world, sports and sponsorships are very common, and in the States it’s developing,” Lieberman said. “Soccer teams will allow you to put your names on their jerseys. Even professional football now has little patches on their practice jerseys. So I think the whole nature of sports-sponsorships in the United States and Canada will change over time. It will be more common, but we’re just on the leading edge right now.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill

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