Logos On Team Jerseys: Here To Stay

A recent sports marketing development is the decision by the NBA to allow small logos on player jerseys. The Philadelphia 76ers were the first to jump in with a deal with StubHub, the online ticket broker. There was some negative backlash, but not enough to make waves or give them second thoughts. The other major pro leagues (MLB, NFL, NHL) came out and said hey are not following, but it is likely just a matter of time until our beloved pro athletes are covered in logos or at least a logo. At look at why the NBA went this route shows us the other leagues will eventually follow.

The leagues are all making big money from TV contracts for the simple reason that sports are the last bastion of must see live TV. Just about everything else is moving to on-demand, web streaming and over the top service. The old pay TV bundle will eventually crack especially with younger viewers preferring web streaming over traditional pay TV packages. When that happens broadcast package contracts will likely stagnate or decrease. With that in mind, the NBA needs to nurture alternate revenue streams. It will be hard to push ticket prices much higher, and the arenas are already chock full of ad signage and sponsorships. 

It’s not like logos on players is a new idea. Soccer teams all over the world have been making big money doing this for years. Players often have giant brand names across their chest. The Manchester United jersey is emblazoned with giant Chevrolet logo – you know, as American as apple pie. And, there is auto racing where every driver and car is jam packed with logos and no one seems to care, especially millennials.

That may be why the NBA felt the time was right as Gen Y has become America’s biggest and most influential generation. Many people who started watching sports in the ’70s and ’80s generally dislike the idea. It feels like a sell out and cheapens the relationship they have with their favorite teams. The thought of classic jerseys such as the N.Y. Yankees, Green Bay Packers and Montreal Canadians festooned with logos is nauseating. For example, seeing the Boston Red Sox slap a Cambridge Saving Bank logo on their timeless, classy uniform is blasphemy to older fans. However, millennials have grown up in a different time, when everything is marketing because everyone is a brand. 

In this case, it is us older fans who have to come to grips with reality. Sports are now all about money and just about every other possible aspect has monetized. Even the sacred green monster in hallowed Fenway Park is full of ads for casinos, office supplies and a selfie app. Tickets are expensive, parking is $40, beers are $10 and hot dogs $6. What does it matter if the uniform sports a small logo? You’ve already turned my pockets inside out. My beloved N.Y. Mets play in CitiField, named after Citibank. Putting a small Citibank logo on the Mets uniform is not such a leap.

It is a whole other question whether this is a good marketing tactic. Does StubHub really want to be associated with a team recently best known for losing on purpose to get a high draft pick? Do people take an action after seeing their favorite point guard wearing a logo? Is it nothing more than an ego/vanity purchase by the CEO?

Perhaps in an era when it’s so easy to skip, block, opt out and avoid advertising, burning the image of a logo into consumer’s brains is not a bad way to go. Maybe it’s the new advertising? Either way it does not matter, the arc of history only moves in one direction – forward. And, money always wins. Logos on uniforms are here to stay.

2 comments about "Logos On Team Jerseys: Here To Stay".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 31, 2016 at 4:34 p.m.

    You think that logos on team jerseys is bad, wait until they begin selling them on the shirts of TV news presenters, who will also do product endorsements---for an extra fee, just like on-air radio personalities. There are unconfirmed rumors that various advertisers are buying the rights to put short ads and, of course, logos, on  designer jeans---one guess where, on the ties of congressmen and senators, on policemens' helmets, and, even though this may not pan out due to legal issues, on U.S. currency---the $20 bill, for example. We live in exciting times, you betcha.

  2. Tomasito Bobadilla from BFM Movimiento LLC, June 1, 2016 at 2:21 p.m.

    First, Millennials are the driving factor behind Ad Blockers and Netflix.  Millennials dislike any form of white noise branding.  You must be in the same family that said Donald Trump would never be the nominee of the Republican Party.  His slogan 'Make America Great Again' is a factor behind his rise and our next President.  NBA Adam Silver is a lawyer, lawyers are black & white, and muster no understanding of cultural pulse.  His decision to allowed branding will backfire as consumers will not spend $150 for some 'look at me patch' on any Celtics, Lakers, Knicks jersey.  Secondly, and most important, Basketball, Baseball, Hockey and American Football was born out of the mindset of American minds, American ingenuity, American virtue, American character.  It represents American Exceptionalism at its highest.  Anywhere you travel, you see non-Americans wearing the pride of its Cities team brands. 

    Premier League has shown what a disaster hijacking a team brand does, with many marching to the bankruptcy line.  Sales executives do not understand the intricacies of branding.  While commissioners & owners duty is to protect the value of American Exceptionalism foundation and its sacrilegious make up of its team brands, in which many are older than you, its commissioners, and me.

    Basketball, Baseball, Hockey & Football are billion dollar drivers that came from the minds of Americans and created a culture and drivers that will outlive any idiotic brand patch to create buzz or momentum.  Brands should not play with an emotional connection driver, as someone Love for their Celtics, Giants, or Yankees culture pride.  At the end, the brand will lose.  Hijacking American culture via its Sports franchise is a foolish action and should be avoided at all times.

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