SBD/October 22, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Could NBA Be More Sensitive To Sponsors' Input With Logos On Uniforms?

With the NBA mulling plans to become the “first of the four major sports leagues in North America to put sponsors’ logos on uniforms,” the N.Y. TIMES' Viv Bernstein asks if the logos would "give sponsors more power?” Logos on NBA jerseys, which would be “two and a half inches square on the shoulders of jerseys, would give sponsors a running, passing, shooting and dunking billboard.” NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski said, “It’s just like NASCAR. The business model of the sport will adjust to having sponsors. And once it adjusts, that will create a leverage factor that gives the sponsors the leverage.” Bernstein wrote sponsor leverage in NASCAR “includes playing a role in what driver is hired to wear that company logo -- and marketability is in some cases more important than success on the track.” But it is “hard for some to imagine that level of sway in a team sport.” Former driver and broadcaster Kyle Petty said that the trend of sponsor leverage "began 10 to 15 years ago" when deals rose from $1-2M annually to $15-20M today. Petty said, “When the money got so big, then the sponsors began to have a stronger role. If my livelihood is coming from sponsorship, then that’s who I have to protect, and my allegiance is to that sponsor.” Driver behavior is often “subject to sponsor approval.” Team owner and driver Tony Stewart was “once fined $50,000 by the Home Depot for a physical confrontation with a photographer after a race in 2002.” M&M’s, a sponsor for Kyle Busch, pulled its logo from his No. 18 Toyota “after an on-track incident last season, and Busch feared he would be fired by Joe Gibbs Racing” (N.Y. TIMES, 10/21).
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