SBD/May 1, 2012/Franchises

Nets Hoping New Black And White Color Scheme Leads To Increase In Merch Sales

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The Nets new color-scheme is inspired by the old New York subway system
The Nets kept it "simple with their new identity, hoping that a combination of black, white and Brooklyn will keep merchandise flying off the shelves," according to Stefan Bondy of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. The club "totally rebranded themselves, unveiling a logo and color scheme Monday with no remnants of their time in New Jersey." Grabbing hold of the marketing opportunity, the Nets yesterday "held a press conference at a Modell’s store across the street" from the $1B Barclays Center. Everything about the identity "is black and white: the logos, the T-shirts, the hats." The team "even distributed black and white cookies." Onexim Sports & Entertainment President Irina Pavlova said, "We thought it kind of represented Brooklyn. It’s simple. It’s crisp. It’s kind of classic. It’s urban. We thought it’s New York." The team's primary logo, which is "outlined by the shape of a shield, is similar in style and colors to that of the Oakland Raiders." The secondary logo "is a 'B' imposed over a basketball." After considerable deliberation, Pavlova said that the franchise "decided to use 'B' for the logo instead of 'BK.'" She said that Nets investor Jay-Z "pushed hard for the former and helped sway the vote" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/1). In N.Y., Tim Bontemps notes the "inspiration behind the black and white color scheme, a radical departure from the red, white and blue the team has featured for decades," also came from Jay-Z. Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said, “He came to me with a story he thought we should tell. If you think about the old New York subway system, (it) was very black-and-white ... white tiles, black colors in the subway, and that was his inspiration. He came to us with the concept of go black and white. It’s simple, yet timeless" (N.Y. POST, 5/1). Yormark said that the Nets' circular logo "will be at center court at the Barclays Center," as well as on the team's shorts. (ESPNNY.com, 4/30).

BROOKLYN, BROOKLYN, TAKE ME IN: In N.Y., Ken Belson noted in many cases, Brooklyn, "not the Nets, gets top billing, or at least equal billing, in the team’s new logos." The black-and-white scheme is "meant to give the team a classic look that plays on the borough’s long history, as well as a sense of urban toughness." Yormark called the colors and logos "the new badges for Brooklyn." Belson wrote, "First things first, though. The Nets need to play a game or two in Brooklyn and convince fans that they are worth following." The team has "always lived in the shadow of the Knicks, so it will take time and work for them to carve out their own fan base" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/30). The N.Y. POST's Bontemps notes the Nets are "using the #hellobrooklyn campaign on billboards that have sprouted up around the city over the past few days" (N.Y. POST, 5/1). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay writes if it is "possible for a sports franchise to take a decades-old nickname, shrink it to fine print, and shove it in a drawer, that's what is happening here." The Nets nickname is a "sidecar, an auxiliary, an Oates to a Hall." Brooklyn is "The Brand." Gay writes some of the new Nets gear "was slick; some of it wasn't." The best stuff "is the plainest, like the basic tees with BROOKLYN and the B basketball logo." Gay: "I think the Nets nickname is a yawn; and I'm not so jazzed about the black-and-white color combo, which seems a little '90s passe. But it could be much worse" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/1).

COLOR ME PLAIN: ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser said the Nets logos are “awful-looking” and added, “I don’t know how it makes you very hop by using ... colors black and white that aren’t actually colors.” Kornheiser: “It looks like it could have been worn on Soviet Union uniforms in basketball in the 1940s. I expected more from Jay-Z, I expected more from your boy Prokhorov.” ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "Black and white can work ... in New York City more than anyplace else” ("PTI," ESPN, 4/30). Comcast SportsNet Bay Area’s Jim Kozimor said the Nets logo was “very unimaginative.” Kozimor: “That looks horrible. You know what Jay-Z said: This is how good I am. I don’t even have to try. Brooklyn starts with a ‘B.’ Put it out there” (“Chronicle Live,” Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 4/30). ESPN’s Kevin Connors, on the Nets unveiling their new logo and colors: “I must admit they will look beautiful on your black and white TV.” ESPN’s Tim Legler: “I’ll tell you what: very dreary, dark. I like the ‘B’ though. I like the ‘B’ for Brooklyn. Old school” (“NBA Tonight,” ESPN2, 5/1). NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver said that the league has been "trying to steer teams toward emphasizing their traditional primary colors instead of black, which many teams use for an alternative jersey, to make them more easily identifiable on television." But the AP's Ralph Russo noted the NBA "had no problem with the choice of black and white for the Nets." Silver said, "We agreed with the Nets that this color scheme made sense for this market" (AP, 4/30).

IF YOU BUILD IT, WILL THEY COME? In N.Y., Joseph Berger writes although the Nets have a "well-earned reputation for haplessness, those celebrating their arrival made no complaints." A hundred fans "snaked around the block waiting for the new Nets sweatshirts, T-shirts and hats to go on sale." The question hovering over the event "was whether the Nets would be able to fill the 18,000-seat arena." A number of fans buying team merchandise "expressed optimism that the combination of a new owner, a new arena and a new hometown might overcome the history of futility" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/1). Silver believes that it is "important for the team to get off to a good start as it begins to cultivate an identity in Brooklyn." Silver said, "They'll get it done. They were unlucky last season, and it didn't help that they were playing in a temporary arena and about to make a move. ... Cementing their identity in Brooklyn, I believe, will help in player recruitment as well" (ESPNNY.com, 4/30).
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