The logos are coming! Corporate logos on professional jerseys: Do you even care?

The logos are coming! Well, in the case of the NBA they’re already here in the form of a pilot program that’s expected to run 3 years. But for other major North American sports groups such as the NFL, MLB, and NHL, we could start to see logos appearing on their jerseys sooner than we think. While corporate logos have periodically appeared on All-Star Game and practice jerseys within the major North American sports leagues, the NBA has paved the way for corporate logos to have a more permanent spot.

(Image retrieved from https://www.si.com/nba/2017/07/26/nba-jersey-sponsors-list-teams-unform-patches-nike)

Accordingly to Will Jarvis (2017), in 2012 the NBA hired a sponsorship research firm by the name of SRI to investigate consumer sentiment around placing ads on jerseys. Although the presence of corporate logos on professional jerseys is a practice that’s already been in place around the world for a number of years, the North American fan base is a different beast and already feels over branding is rampant.

(Image retrieved from http://brandchannel.com/2017/05/31/nba-jersey-sponsors-053117/)

Like any business, the NBA is always looking for new revenue streams and ways to generate additional profit for its owners. Especially during a time in which cord cutting is on the rise and fans are finding other ways to watch their sports content, rather than watching on traditional broadcast channels such as ABC, Fox, and NBC. Adam Silver stated that this sponsorship program would generate approximately $100 million a year in revenue for the league, and the players will actually get a portion of it (Rovell, 2015). Jersey sponsorship costs for firms such as Goodyear and GE will range anywhere between $5-$20 million per year (Jarvis, 2017), allowing the growth rate of revenue received from sponsorship to surpass that of gate revenue (Chew, 2016).

(Image retrieved from http://brandchannel.com/2017/05/31/nba-jersey-sponsors-053117/)

After initially taking issue with this decision, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m ok with the NBA adding corporate sponsorship logos to their jerseys. First and foremost, I don’t believe this decision is going to impact the quality, integrity, or competition level of the game itself that I believe is the most important implication when considering any changes of this magnitude. Secondly, consumers are still able to purchase traditional forms of jerseys without logos in retail and leave it up to teams to decide if they’d like to sell the logo included jerseys within their team shops. This allows the consumers to still have options and not force them into buying a product within a logo on it that they don’t want. Third, I see this as an opportunity for NBA teams, ownership, and individual players to donate more money to foundations or other social causes because they have more resources to be able to do so. Granted, each one of these stakeholders already have a considerable amount of financial resources, but I’d image they’d be willing to do more for others if they had more financial resources themselves. Lastly, this doesn’t appear to be a decision that the NBA jumped into and decided overnight. The NBA took a pragmatic, thoughtful approach that was based on research and fan insights in order to come to their conclusion and implement this pilot program. This looks be the direction that professional sports are heading towards globally, if they’re not already there, and I’m glad the NBA did a thorough analysis prior to executing.

So, which jersey out of all the teams do you think has the best logo integration?  Other than the Lakers, of course!  Here’s a link to the full list: NBA Jersey Logo Sponsorship List

 

References

Brown, Maury. (2016, April 15). Sponsor Logos Are Coming To NBA Jerseys, But Here’s Why It’s A Small Thing. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/maurybrown/2016/04/15/sponsor-logos-are-coming-to-nba-jerseys-but-heres-why-its-a-small-thing/#3ad91d7f74e5

Chew, Jonathan. (2016, April 12). Fans Could See Ads on NBA Jerseys. Retrieved from: http://fortune.com/2016/04/12/nba-owners-ads-jerseys/

Jarvis, Will. (2017, July 14). FOLLOW THE MONEY: ADS ON NBA JERSEYS OPENS THE DOORS FOR OTHER TOP SPORTS. Retrieved from: http://adage.com/article/advertising/big-thing-ads-nba-jerseys-china/309744/

Rovell, Darren. (2016, April 15).   NBA approves on-jersey advertising program. Retrieved from: http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/15210151/nba-jerseys-carry-advertisements-beginning-2017-18

Shayon, Sheila. (2017, May 31). Uniform Branding: The NBA’s First Six Jersey Sponsors. Retrieved from: http://brandchannel.com/2017/05/31/nba-jersey-sponsors-053117/

Woo, Jeremy. (2017, July 26). Every NBA Jersey Sponsor. Retrieved from https://www.si.com/nba/2017/07/26/nba-jersey-sponsors-list-teams-unform-patches-nike

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9 Responses to The logos are coming! Corporate logos on professional jerseys: Do you even care?

  1. Bobby Borg says:

    Hey there Gilbert,

    Great to ask a question in your title. As stated in the article, How To Write An Effective Blog Post (http://chrisbrogan.com/how-to-write-effective-blog-posts/), leading with a clear and intriguing title is crucial. It definitely grabbed my attention and told me precisely what I can expect. So good job here!

    I liked the General Electric logo on the Boston jersey. It immediately made me think of the rating industries where corporate sponsors are really no big deal at all. And given that general Electric’s headquarters are (or were) in Boston, the GE logo seems appropriate from a branding perspective.

    However, will all teams and the logos they sponsor make similar sense? Will the teams have a say in only flying logos of companies that hold their values? If not, what does this see about integrated marketing communications? Does this just stink of extra money into the hands of the team’s owners? Will owners really use the extra money to provide more benefits to the fans?

    Time will tell.

    Intriguing short and sweet article. Good job mate!

    Bobby Borg

  2. Phillip says:

    Hi Gilbert,

    Interesting topic to blog on! I remember first hearing about the advertisements being added to NBA jerseys and I hated it then as I do now. I really feel that there is way too much corporate involvement as it is and this just makes it worse. I remember when we started losing all the stadiums to corporate naming rights such as Jack Murphy Stadium (The Murph) becoming Qualcomm or Candlestick Park becoming 3Com Park. College bowl games are chock-full of corporate advertising influence such as the FedEx Orange Bowl, the Goodyear Cotton Bowl, or the less prestigious Beef O’brady Bowl. Now we can watch our Lakers down at the “Staples” Center wearing their “Wish” Jerseys. Pretty soon American athletes’ jerseys will be adorned with as many ads as Mexican and European soccer players. In an opposite trend, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) used to allow their fighters to wear advertising patches of their own choosing on their trunks and now they are prohibited from doing so. UFC fighters are now required to wear Reebok uniforms that display only the logos of UFC and Reebok.

    You make a valid point that consumers can still buy jerseys without corporate logos which I think is a good thing, however in my opinion, I don’t like seeing them dirty up the jerseys worn on the court by the players. I believe sports are classic and timeless and adding corporate images to professional uniforms makes them look cheap, busy, and tacky. A sign of the times, for sure, however I believe it’s not necessary and definitely not worth the cost in what is given up in professional appearance.

    Again, great choice in topic. Very interesting and timely.

    Phil

  3. Victoria Johnson says:

    Hi Gilbert,

    Great post! I have to admit my feelings are similar to yours when it comes to logos on pro sports gear. I’m not sure whether I have an issue with it or not. But, as you correctly stated, these teams are being run as a business and thus, it’s natural to look for ways to increase profits. After reading your post I view this as completely acceptable.

    And, frankly, I love the idea of NBA helping and donating to non-profit organizations and other social causes.

    I couldn’t decide which jersey I liked the best. My contenders are Jazz – 5 for the fight, Bucks with their Harley Davidson logo and Sacramento Kings with Blue Diamond.

    Thanks for the post!
    Victoria

  4. Mark Carpenter says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading your post Gilbert! and great attention grabber in using the Lakers jersey off the top. I’m glad that you brought up this topic because it’s something that I’ve had a change in opinion about. Originally, I was opposed to the entire idea because I thought it would look cluttered, over the top and the last thing I want to see is a jersey with a bunch of companies plastered on it. However, since the season has started and I’ve been able to see more jerseys around the league, I have come to not mind it at all. The NBA did a fantastic job in making sure the logos were not obscenely large and you can barely tell it is there. Furthermore, the league has always had a reputation for being more forward-thinking and progressive, so credit the Association for finding new ways to generate revenue and grow the game. Go Lakers!

  5. Brooke says:

    Hi there-
    Great post on a great topic. While I felt like some guidelines could have been better served, it just seems like a useless ploy to make more money that the league doesn’t need. I wonder about the effectiveness of the logo placement, though, because the companies sponsoring team jerseys were a pretty penny in most cases.
    One aspect that you didn’t necessarily mention but I loved about this was that some companies chose to accept offers from local businesses. Not mom and pop shops, but corporations within the geographic location that the team was located in. I thought this was an awesome way to rep your city!
    Thanks for sharing,
    B

  6. Herbert says:

    Hello Gilbert,
    Thank you for sharing your post. I found it to be very interesting how the NBA is generating additional revenue by adding logos to the players jerseys. We see inducements in soccer, nascar, motocross, x-games, boxing etc. It was bound to happen in the end. Like any other organization marketing on high end profile figures dries additional revenue streams. To your point I hope the league uses this additional revenue stream to do give back to the community not just to fill their checking accounts.
    To your question in your post I feel that the Lakers do have the best endorsement logo! I also like the good year tires that Cleveland has on their jersey. The shoe with the wing on it makes a pretty cool logo, not sure about the team but the logo is cool.

  7. Angela says:

    Gilbert,
    While I understand brands are looking for ways to be noticed, this could also be a risky move. What happens if a player is accused of something horrible, will the public turn against that brand because they support the team of that player? It would be interesting to understand the good exposure vs. the risk of the bad exposure in situations like this.
    NASCAR has been doing it forever wonder if they would have insight on how to keep brands and players expectations aligned.
    That brings me to another thought. If your team is supporting a brand how much more will it extend into your program? So does that mean during a half time interview the coach and or players will have to speak of the brand? I can imagine it now.
    “The RedBull, Butt Paste, Colgate players are not playing well as a team and we have to reset them during half time.” said NBA coach.
    Good article and I can’t wait to see how this works out for the NBA.

  8. Ashton Edwards says:

    Hello Gilbert,

    Very fascinating post, I had no idea this was on the roadmap for NBA teams. I would have to agree with you that I don’t think this will have any impact on the way the players play and as long as fans can still get jerseys without the logos, then they should go for it. However, I would have a massive issue if this then led to college sports team jerseys. Adding the additional revenue to college sports when students are already unpaid would pose an ethical problem for me. I guess we will just have to wait and see

  9. Thomas says:

    Hi Gilbert,
    Great post, and this is really no surprise to see this starting to happen in the NBA. When you think about the exposure available to corporations by placing their company insignia on the back of superstar players, it really begins to make a lot of sense. I personally don’t think it detracts from the game, seeing how we see players in commercials during the breaks where they have personally been paid by a company to endorse their product. The idea of corporate logo sponsorship is huge with companies like Disney, who were instrumental in branding their product everywhere. In fact they promote other corporations to follow in their footsteps. It was only a matter of time.

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