What is more entertaining to NHL fans than a raucous hockey game at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale Arizona? The answer is, quite frankly, the yet to come commentary by Coyotes tough guy and Twitter virtuoso Paul Bissonnette.
Bissonnette, a self-proclaimed “4th line duster” for the playoff-bound Phoenix Coyotes, has managed to harness Twitter to forge an identity for himself that transcends his role as a sparingly used role player. His treasure trove of one-liners has won him thousands of Twitter followers that, despite his lack of ice time, have turned him into an unlikely magnet for sponsorship dollars.
The end game for Bissonnette was never for Twitter to become a marketing tool. He initially created his Twitter account on the recommendation of former teammate Scottie Upshall and thought it would be fun to use Twitter in a way that suited his style.
“I have no filter and I like it when I get a rise out of people; that makes it fun,” explained Bissonnette in his short-lived Hockey News Blog. “I like to think outside the box and make it fun because that’s my personality.”
Although he currently spends his days as a sparingly used grinder and occasional pugilist, Bissonnette’s off the ice activities make him one of the pioneering professional athletes on Twitter. His consistently hilarious and random comments on the abbreviated social networking website have earned Bissonnette a cult following of over 67,000 followers that includes Yahoo’s Puck Daddy Blog.
“BizNasty” has also forged partnerships with Taco Bell and hockey lifestyle apparel company Sauce Hockey. These niche deals work to maximize the former Pittsburgh Penguin’s marketability, and help to set up a career for Bissonnette after his playing days are over.
Bissonnette is one of just a few professional athletes that have harnessed new media such as Twitter and invested little more than their own time to make themselves into a brand. However, no brand is as unique as the one being forged by Bissonnette.
“It’s taken off,” said Bissonnette in a recent interview with ProHockeyTalk. “I’ve kind of taken it [tweeting] to the next level and people have kind of embraced it.”
Although he seems to have stumbled on this marketing method, more athletes should take a page from Bissonnette’s playbook as a means to connect with fans and sponsors as a means to shape their brand identity. However, like any activity, tweeting does have its potential hazards.
Over the summer, Bissonnette found himself in hot water over his Twitter comments made in jest about Ilya Kovalchuk’s seventeen-year contract being rejected by the NHL. Shortly thereafter, he deleted his Twitter account. Thankfully, Bissonnette came to his senses and created a new Twitter account.
Bissonnette’s Coyotes play the Red Wings tonight in game one of what should be a long and brutal first round playoff series. This is a rematch of last year’s first round series, which saw the upstart Coyotes push the veteran laden Wings to seven games before finally being eliminated. This series will probably be just as tight.
Although Bissonnette may not be a deciding factor in the box score of tonight’s game, one can assume that his presence will be felt on the ice (perhaps a fight), but most certainly shortly thereafter in the Twitter blogosphere, as he continues to shape his brand and sets himself up for life after hockey.
You can follow Bissonnette by clicking here @BizNasty2point0.
Jeff Levine is a staff member of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is a sports attorney, and the Executive Director of One Sports and Entertainment, International.
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