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Air Canada has been announced as the PWHL’s premier partner in its inaugural season in a deal that Canada’ flag carrier described as “impossible to pass up on.”
The partnership with Air Canada was announced by the PWHL just before the turn of the new year as the two organisations to pen to paper on a significant deal in hockey history.
The deal secures Air Canada as the league’s first ever official partner, which comes with broadcasting and in-market assets under intellectual property rights.
The deal also landed some additional perks for Air Canada such as branding rights on Montreal PWHL team’s jerseys plus naming them as the official airline for all of the league’s six teams.
The national carrier promoted the partnership with their “We all fly” campaign on social media and will continue to promote and support the PWHL via their social media channels.
Air Canada’s brand marketing director, Martine Boulerice told Hockey of Tomorrow that they couldn’t pass up on being involved in the deal when it came across their desk.
“There was no way we weren’t going to be involved with the PWHL. It was very important for us to be part of this, it’s very exciting and there is a lot ahead,” Boulerice said.
“This deal reflects our love for hockey, the love and passion seen among fans is similar to what we strive to provide and promote with our customers.
“The core values of this deal are all rooted in our values as an organisation; we’re all about inclusivity, passion, kindness and obviously equality and this partnership is deeply tied in with our motivation in furthering our commitment to gender equality.
“Aviation is a very specialized industry, and women aren’t traditionally very present in that and we at Air Canada really do pride ourselves on being very active and being pioneers on that front,” she explained.
“We’ve been very pleased with how the PWHL has taken off since the start of the season and the impact it has made on women’s sports,” she said.
“Previously, women’s hockey was only really highly visible once every four years with Team Canada at the Olympics and now it’s just been picking up so fast since this season started and it’s great to see,”
This isn’t the first time Air Canada have been partners in a women’s sports, having already signed deals with the WNBA and Canada’s future professional women’s soccer league, Project 8.
Air Canada also has a long-standing presence in Canadian sports through their ‘Fan Flight’ program which allows deserving sports fans from across Canada to see their favourite teams in person.
Boulerice commented on Air Canada’s involvement with the program and the impact it can have on the PWHL as she said: “That was something that we really wanted to bring to the PWHL, we were very motivated to help this league take off.
“We were specifically focused on raising awareness of the league and building a strong, loyal and engaging fanbase that will stick by the league when that all-new, shiny feeling wears off.”
“This program is a great way to do that as we can allow fans to not only see, but actually engage with the league and get to experience a game.”
She also emphasised her belief that there is massive potential for growth within the PWHL and that it is a fruitful venture for brands to get involved with the league.
She explained, “In Canada the interaction on a brand level is much greater than in the US when it comes to the PWHL. I think a lot of brands are leaving some major opportunities to pass by them at the moment.”
“The fanbase is growing exponentially and there is massive potential for visibility. Right now is the time to get involved because this is only going to grow.
“At AC, we’re covering a lot of bases with the PWHL, even in broadcasting. We’re buying media through traditional channels. For example, with the CBC we are sponsoring their intermission segments like ‘PWHL this week.’
“That’s another sector where the numbers and the reward for brands can grow dramatically. We want to invest and be visible on broadcast as we embark on our development with the PWHL.”
Air Canada is looking to the future through their involvement with the league too, Boulerice explained.
She said, “We invited some women’s juniors teams to come see the game openers and that is something that was really important for us and we’re intending to continue with that.
“We have the opportunity to allow young women to see and experience the top level and to help them believe in their ability to reach those heights.
“We’re focused on helping to build this league for the future, and that’s just one way we can do that by making sure we give access and opportunities for the next generation to be a part of this.”
Boulerice also explained the personal sentimental value that the deal held as she said, “For me being involved with the sponsorship portfolio at AC and being involved with the NHL and now the PWHL it’s really special for me because I can now allow my daughter to experience hockey and look up to these players.
“It gives her the chance to experience the sport and lets her see that she can be a part of it if she wants too, which is very powerful.”