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Hallie Moreland | April 26, 2011

Sponsorship CAPtures fans’ attention
For the past year, American Pest, headquartered in Fulton, Md., has been partnering with  Washington, D.C.’s professional hockey team, the Washington Capitals. It’s a relationship that has paid off handsomely for both parties.

One reason for the success of the innovative marketing campaign is that Matt Nixon, CEO of American Pest, is a lifelong sports fan. “I’ve been a huge fan of Washington, D.C. sports for years, particularly the Caps. So when we had the opportunity to support the Caps and reach out to other fans, I jumped on it,” he said.

Nixon is proof that investing in one’s passions can lead to financial success in the business world.Not only does American Pest provide IPM services to the Verizon Center, a multi-purpose sports and entertainment venue in downtown Washington, but the company’s status as a corporate sponsor has helped raise its profile throughout the region.

The company has hosted table events in the arena, giving its staff an opportunity to share its pest control expertise with potential customers and communicate with Caps fans on a face-to-face basis.

American Pest also is responsible for presenting one player the “Hard Hat of the Game” award, a prize selected by the fans through online voting. By registering and voting online, fans qualify to win an autographed hard hat from the Caps player that is selected “Hard Hat of the Game” most often throughout the month.

Those who vote online receive a bounce back e-mail from American Pest thanking them for participating. “That’s how we capture their e-mail address and share information about our company,” he says.

The company also sponsors the “American Pest Penalty Kill” every time the Caps need to kill a penalty, and the “American Pest Caps Mobile Fantasy Challenge” in which fans are given the opportunity to select their favorite offensive and defensive players before the game via text message. Those who participate are eligible to win various Caps prizes.

The result is approximately 8,500 people sending four to five text messages every game throughout the 82-game season, with American Pest’s logo being the first thing that comes up on their cell phone whenever they vote. As part of its marketing package, American Pest’s logo also appears on the big LED scoreboards for two minutes every game; the company receives advertising time on the team’s radio broadcasts; and its logo appears on a dasherboard sign at ice level. 

It is Nixon’s hope that as a result of his company’s significant marketing investment, Caps fans will exit the arena “thinking of us.”

Nixon admits that his sponsorship with the Caps is a long-term investment that “doesn’t pay off overnight.” But it’s an investment that is proving to be a smart one. “We have people who call us and say, ‘We know you’re a Caps sponsor, we want to do business with you,’” he said.

The company also has racked up 3,000+ e-mail contacts, along with 2,000+ Facebook fans. The total reach of the marketing program is estimated at about 18,000 per game.

Nixon acknowledges that American Pest’s partnership with the Capitals takes a lot of time and effort, but it’s worth the investment, particularly given his passion for the team. “I micro-manage it more than anything else in the business because I like to,” he said. “It would be a major mistake if I wrote them a $100,000 check and said, market this for me.”

The fact that Nixon is such an avid hockey fan certainly helps. “It works for me, but it’s not for everyone,” he said. “You need to know what you’re getting yourself into.”
 

— Hallie Moreland