SBJ/February 27-March 5, 2017/Marketing and Sponsorship

Patching things up: More NBA teams sign jersey sponsors

Various team sponsorship executives huddled in New Orleans comparing notes on their efforts to sell jersey patch deals in time for the 2017-18 season.

With the Jazz, Celtics, Sixers, Kings and Nets signing deals, other teams are expected to follow suit soon.

Come April, it will be a year since the NBA approved patch advertising, but the league isn’t concerned about the pace of the sales.

“We are pleased with the momentum,” said Amy Brooks, executive vice president of team marketing and business operations for the NBA. “We knew this is not a snap-the-finger sell. These are large integrated deals and they take some time to do and that is why we approved it with that lead time.”

Not a panacea for teams starved for new marketing inventory, the patch is a complex sell. While teams can wear the patches for road games, those patch sponsors can’t activate outside of local markets without a separate, and larger, league deal. That means if, say General Electric, which has a patch deal with the Celtics, wanted to activate outside of Boston, that would require a league deal. With patch deals starting at $3 million, that’s a hefty ask.

“The patch has to be bundled with either business back or media to make sense,” said Chris Lencheski, an adviser to MP & Silva, which is selling patches for two NBA teams. “I see patches as the beginning and end of a larger media deal, based on marketplace, viewership, and access to traditional and digital inventory — just like a naming-rights deal.”

Atlanta Hawks Chief Revenue Officer Andrew Saltzman cited the recent GE/Celtics deal as a paradigm.

“We all need to find that particular partner that sees this as a unique asset,” he said “It can’t just be about throwing their logo on your uniform. For it to have real value, there needs to be a compelling story.”

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