Wednesday, May 7, 2008

No crossover here

When MLS clubs started front-jersey sponsorship, I wondered how other sports leagues would react. Would it force them to reconsider their own policies against advertising on their own shirts? Would they even notice that professional clubs in this country were selling multimillion dollar deals for such advertising?

Now, I didn't expect to see the Dallas Cowboys sporting Coca-Cola on their jerseys anytime soon but I still wondered what other sports leagues felt about front-jersey sponsorship.

Tim Lemke of the Washington Times wrote a story that explored other sports leagues and their thoughts on front-jersey sponsorship. The consensus is that it won't happen anytime soon in leauges like the NBA and NFL, though at least one sports league said it would never say never.

I think if that happens, though, there would be such a huge backlash that the sports leagues would have to be prepared for that. Either that or our society would have to shift into one that would more readily accept such things because I don't think it would right now.

Personally, I don't really care if other pro leagues went the way of the soccer world. Would I want to see the Dodgers sporting AT&T or something? Not necessarily, but I wouldn't stop supporting them. It's a sign of the times. I mean, there are ads everywhere else in baseball and football stadiums, why not carry it over to the uniforms?


EdTheRed said...

It'll never happen in baseball - or at least not for a very, very long time. Remember a few years ago, when MLB cut a deal to put promo graphics for the latest Spiderman movie on the bases (I think there was some other stuff involved, too)...the backlash was so intense that it never even came close to happening.

Part of baseball's marketing appeal is its tradition. They're on thin enough ice as it is with the performance-enhancing drug crap that followed the strike. The possible backlash that any sponsor would face also makes uniform deals highly unlikely. I'm not sure putting "Samsung" on the front of the Yankees uniform would do much other than cause Yankees fans to boycott Samsung products...probably with a few very public, very angry bonfires.

Anonymous said...

You have to remember there is a huge difference between sports that have commercial breaks every 15 minutes for their advertising buck and soccer which is running play. That's not to say "sports" like racing don't have commercials AND advertising, but it does make it easier for American sports teams to resist the pull.

Evan said...

I thought of the example of the Spiderman bases as well as what a backlash would be.

I don't think ads on jerseys in other American sports will ever happen--people will tolerate sponsored stadiums, ads everywhere inside the stadium, and commercials run during breaks of play, but something on the uniform is just NOT RIGHT, dammit!

L.B. said...

Yeah, that was some pretty bad stuff for baseball with the Spiderman issue. But when you look at the steriods scandal and the fallen heroes (Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, etc.), that's a far worse issue than advertising and soiling the supposed good name of the league.

Evan, in a way I feel like you. Like it would be so strange to see ads on uniforms in the NFL or something. But then, why isn't it strange to see the same types of ads on soccer jerseys? I guess it's part of the sport and one that won't cross over.

But really, if MLB teams announced tomorrow that they were having new jersey sponsorship deals and, oh by the way, they were lowering ticket prices by 50 percent, maybe more people would go for it. But short of that, probably not going to happen.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I absolutely hate the fact that so many teams throughout the world have sponsor logos emblazoned on the front of their jerseys. I'd really hoped, like Andrea, that MLS would buck the trend despite the financial temptation. Ah well. I frankly don't care that that's what other "real" leagues do. The corporate influence is virtually omnipresent in the US outside of sport. Couldn't we have kept pace with other US sports in this regards. Again, ah well.

Anonymous said...

Tradition is just a state of mind. If you could make your team better by getting sponsor dollars, why not do it?

You can do it in a classy way like Barcelona has done it. Does not have to have a cheap look to it.

CACuzcatlan said...

Anonymous, IIRC, Barcelona pays UNICEF (United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund) to have the name on the jersey.

Anonymous said...

Cacuzcatlan, I know that is why I say it is "classy."

Anonymous said...

Barcelona pays UNICEF?????
I don't think so. I heard they both have a non-commercial deal. Barcelona was one of a few clubs that didn't want to have a sponsor on its jersey, however they reached a deal with UNICEF, it's a good cause.