SBD/November 14, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

NBA, Adidas Hope Christmas Day Exposure For Sleeved Jerseys Will Boost Sales

Fan versions of the jerseys go on sale today, with a $110 price tag
The NBA and adidas are "releasing new short-sleeved jerseys for players, and replicas for fans, too," a style which will "get a lot of exposure come Christmas, when it will be worn by the 10 teams playing that day," according to Elizabeth Holmes of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Players will "wear sleeved jerseys with a special, limited-edition graphic design, which the league is calling its Big Logo campaign." The team's logo "will feature prominently on the front" of the uniform. While only the teams playing on Christmas "will wear the new jerseys, adidas is making fan versions for those teams and five others in the league for $110." They go on sale today "at NBAStore.com, the NBA Store in New York and team retailers." NBA Exec VP/Global Merchandising Sal LaRocca said, "A shirt with short sleeves can probably be worn a little bit more effectively than a shirt with no sleeves." The sleeved Christmas Day jerseys are "part of a broader, continued effort by the league to make the sport synonymous with the holiday." Holmes reports the Christmas Day jerseys will "be featured in a new 30-second commercial, where five NBA stars in sleeved-jerseys hit choreographed three-point shots." The shots "fall through a series of hoops with jingle bells tied to the nets and it is set to Christmas music." Heat F LeBron James "swoops in at the end with an alley-oop." Sleeved jerseys will become a regular option, though adidas Head of Global Sports Marketing Chris Grancio said that it "won't replace the traditional tanktop." However, sleeved jerseys "will become part of the uniform rotation" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/14).

TWITTER REAX: Early reviews of the sleeved jerseys on Twitter were less than kind. ESPN's Kevin Negandhi wrote, "The NBA sleeve jerseys are awful." NFL.com's Albert Breer wrote, "Who the ____ thought these were cool?" MSG Network's Alan Hahn wrote, "Seriously, the NBA is trolling me at this point." St. Louis-based WGNU-AM's Joe Roderick: "The sleeves, the logos, the V-neck... is there one part of those jerseys that the @NBA got right?" ESPN.com's Tom Haberstroh: "If the NBA is going for that kid's rec soccer jersey look, they absolutely nailed it." The Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen: "Would like to see commercial w/ someone pretending to like NBA Christmas sleeves when it is under the tree. 'No, really, hon. I do like it.'" The Washington Post's Michael Lee wrote of the Nets uniforms, "Looks like they're getting ready for volleyball."

NUMBERS GAME: The MOTLEY FOOL's Jake Mann wrote the "two most significant" reasons for the broader rollout of sleeved jerseys are "the potential to boost fan jersey sales [and] more on-jersey advertising space." It is estimated that "leaguewide jersey sales fell" from $3B in '10-11 to around $1B in the shortened '11-'12 season. While aggregate NBA revenues "recovered by 20% last year, problems remain." Specific retailers have "cited a lack of superstar turnover and the success of smaller-market teams as reasons behind a general bearishness in the jersey industry." The proliferation of sleeved jerseys "could renew fan interest in small- and big-market teams alike." After hitting the $5B total revenue mark last season, a similarly sized expansion this year indicates $6B is "a fair expectation." If the sleeved jerseys are successful though, it is "not unreasonable to expect upside to this number" in the range of $6.5-7B. When looking at the design of the new uniform option, two things "are immediately noticeable" -- there is a "chunk of space open on each sleeve" and the logos are "much smaller, leaving more empty space on the body." Both of these features are "attractive to potential advertisers." However, it is "quite possible" that sleeved jerseys could "go the way of the league's Noche Latina alternates that show up only a few times each season" (FOOL.com, 11/13).
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