Parade Today, Brand Tomorrow: Chicago Firm Ocean Tomo Provides Insight into Blackhawks' Brand Value

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Ocean Tomo’s Elise Neils and Bradley Sarna project the value of the Blackhawks brand to increase by upwards of 20%.

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…information now generation, who are drawn to hockey because it is fast, colorful, and the overall speed of the game which helps it transcend well to television…

Ocean Tomo, LLC - The turnaround of the Chicago Blackhawks has been nothing other than remarkable. The story of a franchise that was ranked as the worst in professional sports by ESPN in 2004 winning the 2010 Stanley Cup is like a phoenix rising from the ashes. However, this story has been written. Everyone knows that the Blackhawks are back. Everyone knows that the team is stocked with young talent and the city has re-embraced the players, coaches and management. A champion’s parade bears witness to this success and the Hawks “biggest fan”, Mayor Richard Daley, is throwing the full support of the city behind it.

To the team and the city of Chicago, the true victory extends well beyond the Stanley Cup and it is the result of execution both on and off the ice. The true payoff is the resurgence of the Blackhawks brand, which is perhaps already returned to the strength it possessed in the 1960’s. The value of the Blackhawks brand is evidenced with game six achieving the highest television ratings the NHL Stanley Cup Finals history – in addition to the other Stanley Cup Finals games garnering record viewing audiences on network television, cable, and local broadcast.

Sports writers will pen countless stories as to how the Hawks won the series. This story is about the vision and determination required to rebuild the brand. And yes, the victory is a key component but only one of many. Rebuilding the Blackhawks brand is the culmination of four hard years of work. The combination of a change in ownership, a strong marketing campaign, and on-ice success formed the perfect storm to reinvigorate a historical icon. The team has done everything possible to raise the profile of the red jersey from hosting the Bridgestone Winter Classic in 2009, to opening the 2009-2010 NHL season in Finland, to vying to host the NHL Draft and All-Star Game in the future. The Hawks host a sold out fan convention and they have worked hard to form a great connection with the community and youth hockey through inviting military veterans to stand on the ice during the anthem. Such events have reestablished the Blackhawks brand on a national and international level. All of these events were accomplished before winning the Stanley Cup this week.

For the Blackhawks brand, ending a streak of 49 years since its last Stanley Cup is a new beginning, not a finale. It is the perfect opportunity to further the Blackhawks identity, expanding its recognition and following the league around the world. As hockey experiences a renaissance of sorts here in the United States, it is still regarded as the king of sports in Canada, and it’s gaining popularity throughout Europe and Russia. Hockey appeals to a younger demographic, specifically the “…information now generation, who are drawn to hockey because it is fast, colorful, and the overall speed of the game which helps it transcend well to television…,” according to Blackhawks President John McDonough.

The value of the brand can be determined by examining various market drivers that are both quantitative and qualitative. These drivers include:

Quantitative    

  • Ticket Prices/Increases
  • Sponsorship Revenues
  • Licensing Revenues
  • Advertisement/Player Appearances
  • Concession and Apparel Revenues
  • Media Contracts

Qualitative

  • Community Exposure
  • Continuation of Tradition
  • Player Recruitment
  • Civic Pride
  • National/International Exposure
  • Economic Benefit to Local Business

The quantitative drivers can easily be calculated by examining revenues before and after the Stanley Cup championship. The intangible qualitative benefits of a Stanley Cup victory are more difficult to track but contribute to the value of the team and the brand. A valuable brand is one that evokes emotions from its consumers when mentioned. The Blackhawks brand will now be linked with powerful emotions of winning and of contributing to the community in a town where fans embrace their teams. Matt McClure, contributing writer for SecondCityHockey.com, said “[he] cried like a little girl who skinned her knee,” when the Blackhawks won because he felt that he was a “small part of the win.” John McDonough agreed with this, stating that Chicago sports fans are gracious and appreciative, as shown through the outpouring of thanks that the organization has received from fans.

The Blackhawks will see an increase in sales of apparel, sponsorship opportunities, media opportunities, and licensing revenues with a Stanley Cup. But the larger impact on long term brand value is the emotional connection forged between the team and its fans and the city of Chicago.

The value of the Blackhawks franchise is infinitely greater than the tangible assets shown on the balance sheet – the equipment and training facilities. Like most every industry in the United States today, the value of this organization is its intangible assets. Ocean Tomo projects that the value of the Blackhawk brand will increase by upwards of 20% due to the team winning its first Stanley Cup since 1961. The long term effects of this win will transcend into increased strength and value of the Blackhawks brand.

About Ocean Tomo, LLC
Established in 2003, Ocean Tomo, LLC, is the leading Intellectual Capital Merchant Banc™ firm. The company provides financial products and services related to Intellectual Property, including expert testimony, valuation, research, ratings, investments, risk management and transactions. Ocean Tomo assists clients – corporations, law firms, governments and institutional investors – in realizing Intellectual Capital Equity® value broadly defined.

Headquartered in Chicago, Ocean Tomo has offices in Boston, Greenwich, Orange County, Paris, and San Francisco. Subsidiaries of Ocean Tomo include: Ocean Tomo Risk Management, LLC; Ocean Tomo Asset Management, LLC; OTI Data Networks, LLC; Patent Marking, LLC; and Ocean Tomo Capital, LLC – publisher of the Ocean Tomo 300® Patent Index family. Ocean Tomo is the founder and majority owner of the Intellectual Property Exchange International (IPXI), Inc. as well as the exclusive licensee and distributor of PatentRatings® system.

About Elise Neils
Elise Neils a Director of Ocean Tomo’s Valuation practice in Chicago, Illinois.

Ms. Neils has over fifteen years of experience and specializes in the valuation of intangible assets with a particular focus on brands, trademarks, patents, naming rights, copyrights, and other intellectual property. She provides valuation services for a variety of purposes including mergers and acquisitions, GAAP and IFRS compliance, SEC reporting, tax reporting, litigation and insurance reporting. With a law degree as well as a degree in finance, Ms. Neils brings a powerful combination of education and experience to her valuation analyses.

Ms. Neils has performed hundreds of complex international valuations for a wide variety of organizations in the United States and abroad. She has worked with companies whose brands are known around the world. Her experience includes valuations for international wine and spirits companies, sports franchises, real estate organizations, media and entertainment companies, breweries, nationally-known shopping malls, life science companies, software companies, associations and government organizations.

About Brad Sarna
Bradley J. Sarna is an Associate in Ocean Tomo’s Valuation practice in Chicago, Illinois.

Prior to joining Ocean Tomo, Mr. Sarna was previously an associate in the valuation services group at Marsh & McLennan and an associate with AbsoluteBrand LLC. Mr. Sarna has experience valuing intellectual property within a wide range of industries, with a particular focus on both the Wine & Spirits and Sports & Entertainment Industries.

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