Belleville-area businesses cross-promoting their interests with the Belleville Senators AHL team has landed some local proprietors in the penalty box.
Local city councillor Kelly McCaw, who also owns four restaurants in Belleville, says she got a call from the Senators’ team management.
“I was advertising pre-game meals, which is quite standard considering I’m three blocks from the arena,” she points out.
Quinte Restaurant, one of her establishments, had a sign in the parking lot reading: “Have your pre-game sensational dinner here. Go, Sens Go!”
“It wasn’t necessarily about the Sens word as much as it was about advertising pre-game meals,” she explained.
Realtor Doug Peterson spent $2,000 on Belleville Senators seasons tickets for clients and social media giveaways for his real estate business.
The online promotion prompted a similar call from the team management. Peterson admits he may have overdone the promotion on Facebook.
“Maybe enthusiasm, I guess — we did use some [team] logos and brands,” he said.
Peterson removed the trademarked material, and left up only a photo of the tickets and the Senators scarf that they came with.
But he soon received another phone call and email informing him even that wasn’t permitted.
“I think there’s a fine line there, and I feel the Sens’ management has gotten a little heavy-handed, a little overzealous,” Peterson said.
Belleville Senators chief operating officer Rob Mulowney says the crackdown is about protecting the team’s intellectual property.
Many businesses have formal contracts with the Senators, the AHL affiliate of the Ottawa Senators, that permit an official association with the hockey team.
“If every business in the city puts a sign up and says ‘Go, Sens Go — come into my business and get this or that,’ we have no value proposition to the market,” Mulowney said.
He notes that without those contracts, the team’s profitability would be adversely affected.
McCaw, who says she has removed direct references to the team from her restaurants’ signs but will still promote pre-game meals, feels the situation could impact the $15 million in economic benefits predicted when the team was first brought to Belleville.
“I’m having a hard time seeing how we will ever come close to that if we continue to have to be subject to this type of intimidation to buy the sponsorship,” she said.
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