SBD/March 20, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

IMG World Congress Of Sports: Silver Calls NBA Jersey Ads "Inevitable"

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver yesterday said it is "inevitable" that advertising will appear on team jerseys in the coming years. Speaking at the '14 IMG World Congress of Sports, Silver said, "There are so many programs because of TiVo where people are skipping all the commercials, it just creates that much more of an opportunity for our marketing partners to get closer to our fans and closer to our players. And it gives us an opportunity to have deeper integration when it comes to those forms of sponsorship. … I think it’s going to become more accepted and commonplace by U.S. fans." He said the move would come "most likely within five years." Silver also touched on selling the NBA product on smartphones and tablets, as well as managing digital rights (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor). Silver following his appearance at the conference said that "'almost all' of the NBA's corporate sponsors have expressed interest in slapping their corporate logos on player jerseys." Silver: "It's such an enormous opportunity for our sponsors to connect with us. I think the marketplace is asking for it." AD AGE's Michael McCarthy noted the NBA would be "the first of the four major U.S. sports leagues to break the taboo against selling corporate logos on the front of player jerseys." The WNBA within the last decade "began cutting deals with sponsors to put their corporate logos on the front of players jerseys," as did MLS. Race car drivers and golfers "have long been covered in corporate logos" (ADAGE.com, 3/19).

GET USED TO IT: ESPN's Darren Rovell notes a corporate logo on NBA jerseys sized at 2.5 x 2.5 inches "is the idea." Rovell: "It's not going to be that big but it has to be big enough to have some sort of impact. The DVR thing is interesting because the reason why the next NBA deal is going to be so big is because sports are kind of ‘un-TiVoable’ but not completely DVR proof." ESPN’s Dan Dakich sarcastically said, "The uniform is sacred. We have to keep the uniform pristine. Why? The world changes. You used to not have signage all over the place in Yankee Stadium. Now there's signage everywhere, and the world has gone on. Who cares? When people say selling out, is that a good thing or a bad thing? That’s just a term people have used. You’re selling out to corporate America" ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 3/20).
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