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‘Green’ sponsorship powers the sport of curling


November 15, 2012
By Mike Jiggens

Just as skip Glenn Howard started planning for the 2013 curling season,
he suddenly found himself without a title sponsor to help cover the
team's travel expenses. Their previous title sponsor changed marketing
directions, and Howard had to find a replacement fast. Even for a World
and Canadian champion, the realities of supporting a competitive season
without personal financial hardship to the team has to be managed.

According to Howard, "We travel about 70-80 days a year to participate in dozens of matches from coast to coast. Curling isn't like the NBA or the NHL where players get flown around in private chartered jets provided by team owners. Each team has to find its own sponsors, make its own travel plans and figure out how to pay the bills. That can be a real challenge for serious curlers, but also a bonus if you click with the right sponsor that gets behind your team."howardweb

Fortunately for Team Howard, they have the public profile and the consistent performance record to attract sponsors that want to be associated with the team.

"There are still no million-dollar deals out there for curlers, but more and more companies are seeing the value of being connected to our sport. Curling's popularity is growing because it is affordable for almost everyone to play, plus the friendliness and sportsmanship of curling has a truly Canadian feel," sid Team Howard second Brent Laing.

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Laing was the glue that cemented the new title sponsorship deal with Weed Man Canada.

"I've been working with Weed Man since I was a teenager, about the same time as I started curling. When we had an opening for the title sponsorship, I took the opportunity to Mike Kernaghan, the CEO at Weed Man, and we talked about it.

According to Kernaghan, "My first reaction was 'You have got to be kidding! A company that takes care of lawns…sponsoring a winter sport?' But when we looked at the target audience and the fit with our franchisees' businesses, it made perfect sense. Our company is not just one business; it is a network of Canadian small business owners that depend on their community involvement and reputation. Being associated with Team Howard and the passion they have for curling helps get our message out that we care about our communities, and those communities care about curling."

Kernaghan decided to go for the major title sponsorship even if it was out-of-box thinking for a lawn care company.

"Our business is seasonal, but our customer relationships last year round. During curling season when there are six-foot-high snow banks, Weed Man is just like spring, we are both only around the corner."

According to Kernaghan, "There is a winning synergy between Team Howard and Weed Man. As with curling, we are a neighbourhood-supported business in over 130 communities across Canada. Curling is all about communities coming together to enjoy the sport. I look forward to growing this relationship in years to come and the exciting lead up to the 2014 Olympic Trials & Games in Sochi, Russia."

Weed Man inked its two-year title sponsorship deal for the Glenn Howard Curling Team from Coldwater, Ont. at the start of this season. Led by four-time World Champion Glenn Howard, this team is the reigning 2012 Canadian and World Champions. The Howard team, which this year includes Wayne Middaugh, Brent Laing and Craig Savill, is considered one of the most elite and recognizable teams in curling.

As this Canadian "Dream Team" from Coldwater sets out to beat the world, they sought to align themselves with Weed Man Canada because of the values and principles they share.

Howard said, "It is great to have a sponsor like Weed Man that is so committed to curling, but this partnership goes far beyond that. Weed Man is made up of hundreds of small Canadian businesses, so everywhere we go it is like having a national network of local sponsors. I think that is going to help raise the profile of curling in communities all across Canada."

"One thing we are really proud of is to have one of our very own Weed Man operators, Brent Laing, playing second with Team Howard," Kernaghan said. "Brent Laing and his family have been part of the Weed Man success story since the 1980s with their Collingwood area franchise. I know a lot of people would be really wow'd to learn that the guy who is out there caring for their lawn is really a World Champion athlete who could be representing Canada at the next winter Olympics."