There are very few places in the United States that you can go to and not be bombarded with advertising, from massive billboards to junk mail still being delivered by Uncle Sam’s Postal Service. Research and educated guesses have placed the number of advertisements a typical American sees on a daily basis between 125 and 20,000. OK, so it’s not an exact science coming up with this number, but the most reasonable number seems to be a study done that says 245 ads per day. With that in mind, it’s no surprise to hear that the NBA wants to start hawking out the ad space on the player’s jerseys soon.
Basketball purists in the US seems to think this move is the end of the game as we know it, that somehow putting a small ad patch on the front or back of a jersey is going to change the game forever. They are also pretty sure that no fan will ever buy any ad-laced jerseys online or at an arena (most likely named after a corporate sponsor) and that the revenue the NBA as a whole is estimated at bringing in on such a deal (various estimates put the number between $75 million and $125 million) will be lost in diminished jersey sales, so what’s the point?
The NBA says that many of the teams in the league are in financial trouble and that moves such as ad deals and new broadcast deals are what is needed to strengthen the entire league. Teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder can’t expect to land long-term contracts like the Lakers did recently, estimated at $200 million a year over 26 years, so the new revenue sharing program that was put in place after last year’s lockout is supposed to help the smaller market teams.
Another interesting situation that this will create is personal marketing deals players have. How many remember the scene at the 1992 Olympics when the original “Dream Team” took the medal stand to accept their Golds and saw Michael Jordan, Charles Barkely and Magic Johnson draped in the US flag? Nope, not ballers being overly patriotic, they were all covering up a competitive logo (Reebok) to their sponsors (Jordan – Nike, Barkely – Nike, Johnson – Converse) on the team warm-up jerseys. How will LeBron, Kobe and a host of others making millions off endorsement deals handle the situation?
It’s interesting that there’s such an issue with advertising on jerseys when you look around and see how many people are wearing t-shirts with the logos of various athletic goods companies. It was marketing genius back in the 1980s (most give the credit to Nike) to make it socially acceptable to walk into a store and pay top dollar for a shirt that advertises the company that’s selling that shirt, a shirt that they no doubt started giving away wherever they could as marketing piece.
David Stern, the NBA Commissioner, has stated that the NBA is losing $300 million per year and that 22 of 30 teams are running with a deficit. Their new collective bargaining agreement, which included an revised revenue sharing plan, should help out many teams, but without new sources of revenue teams are going to start closing their doors and moving to more lucrative areas, if there are any of those left. They hope that a 3″x3″ patch on the front of the jersey is the first of more innovative ideas to help booster their collective bottom lines.