When is Advertising Too Much in Sports?
I heard a very interesting conversation on Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN the Fan Radio this morning and felt obliged to share it with all of you and get your thoughts.
The NBA has been approached by a mega-marketing department that's interested in advertising company names and logos on NBA game jerseys. Mike and Mike seemed to be on board with this idea, but personally for me, I think it's awful. They argued that Nascar and PGA golfers already have had this for years, but this is totally different in my opinion. Let's look at Nascar. These are individual drivers being sponsored by different companies. This is a part of Nascar. When I think of Dale Earnhardt Jr, I always thought of the Budweiser car. Now I think of the National Guard and Amp (Mt Dew). These individual guys are associated with their sponsors, and in many cases, people follow the driver of the sponsor that they like. I have a friend that drinks Coors light religiously so he only follows that car, regardless of who is driving it.
What we're talking about in the NBA is everyone on the team or in the league having a tacky logo on their jersey. Can you see under Bryant on the back of Kobe's jersey reading; White Castle Sliders? If a sport could get away with this, it would be basketball because this is already the case in the WNBA and I could see this happening, but there's one problem. Adidas, who sponsors and provides NBA uniforms, paid over $300 million for a contract to provide these services, and David Stearn wouldn't allow Adidas to have their logo visible on the game jerseys. So if this marketing campaign happens, don't expect Adidas to sit around and take this lying down. There will be huge legal consequences for the NBA. They would need to restructure the Adidas contract and have that logo on the uniform before they add any insurance agency or fast food chain logo.
The question I have is why weren't they able to have the logo on the jersey anyway? This is marketing I don't have a problem with. Take a look at college basketball teams who have the Nike swoosh or Jordan logo on their jerseys. They are visible, yet small and tasteful. Reebok, who provided the NFL jerseys up until this coming season, had their signature logo on the sleeve of every players jersey. I don't have a problem with this. I do have a problem with large tacky logos of companies that have nothing to do with the jersey, the team, or the sport branded on the players jerseys.
Let's think about this for a minute in Major League Baseball. Can you imagine the classic New York Yankee jerseys or the Chicago Cubs jerseys being branded with the golden arches or a Taco Bell logo? Babe Ruth would roll over in his grave. I'm not a fan of the new college football uniforms that these teams have. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I love the classic, traditional look of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish or the Crimson Tide uniforms. Notre Dame's new Gold helmets are awful! Don't fix what's not broken.
Final thoughts on this sponsorship idea: These players are only wearing these uniforms during the games. As a fan, whether you're at the game or watching it on TV, it's hard not to be reminded of who's sponsoring the event. It's broadcasted upon the return of every commercial break, you can see it on the court or painted on the field, it's plastered around the stadium on the jumbo-trons and electric billboards circling the venue. So why do they need to put the same logos on the players? I would be interested to hear everyone's thoughts on this. All I know is by next season, Kobe Bryant may look like Tony Stewart's car.