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Say It Ain’t So! NBA Jersey Sponsorship?

    Recently, the NBA has been public with their desire to make the last brand money grab and place corporate logos on the jersey of their member teams. It will be interesting to see the outcry that this brings because in the Universe of the Big Four US sports, the game jersey has seemingly been the last virgin in the sponsorship sorority. Listen, my little company dies without inventing new ways to attach sponsorship in a meaningful way to sports. But, my personal view is that a line in the sand is still necessary. Quick, name the third patch on the left shoulder of Jeff Gordon’s jumpsuit…
   
    Many of us are old enough to remember the 1980 Olympics. The reason that our hockey team captivated a nation in an unrepeatable manner was simple. Real or imagined, the media marketing machine had positioned our boys as little-engine-that-could amateurs fighting against the huge paid professionals from Communist countries across the globe. There is no way that we could compete with all that money and a lifetime of power and privilege afforded to the enemy. Every win by our squad rammed home the American Dream of spirit, teamwork and grit outmuscling money.
   

"NBA Jersey Sponsorship"

image via Bleacher Report


   
    Twelve years later a 180 and the US sends the “Dream Team” to Barcelona to wipe the hardwood with our well sponsored studs. Sports Marketing was exploding across the Globe and International Soccer led the way with jersey sponsorship becoming the lead sled dog in an Iditarod of logo leniency. Manchester United gets $30 million a year for the logo on their game jerseys and another $13 million a year for the logo on their practice jerseys. But still, inside our borders, the Big Four held out…
   
    Now, the rush of gurgling green may be breaking the dam. The NBA claims that it is an International sport, and as such deserves to act accordingly. Maybe so, but I would argue that in many cases less is still more. Compare your local Minor League Ballpark with the inside of your favorite college football stadium. I would bet that a casual fan would hit about .750 in the name-our-sponsors game at State U, and be well below the Mendoza line with the Winston Salem Winking Lizards.
   
    So NBA, if you add that logo patch – no matter how small to Kobe’s chest, be careful. Every other sponsor on your roster just moved down one rung. And that step was a doozy.

2 Responses so far.

  1. Thom Dupper says:

    Can sponsor tats be far behind? Long term contracts for regular tats. Higher cost depending upon placement. Short term Henna tats for seasonal sponsors. The possibilities are endless. I’m thinking beach volleyball players…

    • CariEllison says:

      Great question Thom! During the olympics this was a popular subject. There were a couple of runners that wore temporary tattoos during meets. They were actually asked to cover them up with tape. It made headlines which had the complete opposite effect the governing body had hoped for. However if permanent tattoos are ever considered, please prepare the bunker for the apocalypse.

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