NBA basketball fans are having an action-packed, emotional week. Kobe’s farewell tour has come to an end as the Black Mamba, one of the greatest to ever play the game of basketball, laced ‘em up one last time. The Warriors reached the 73 win mark and surpassed the ‘96 Bulls record 72 win season. Plus, the NBA Playoffs start on Saturday. There’s nothing for NBA fans to complain about, right?
That’s debatable. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced yesterday that NBA owners will likely approve placing ads on NBA jerseys in the 2017-18 season.
This is HUGE for advertisers and sports fans alike, but for opposing reasons. Of course advertisers want to get out in front of more fans and increase their reach, but will NBA fans respond well to this change?
Since I’m a marketer and an avid NBA fan, I understand both sides.
From an Advertiser’s Perspective
Blue chip companies will pay top dollar for this 2.5 x 2.5 inch space on the shoulders of NBA team jerseys. The space will be lucrative because of the NBA’s visibility on TV, the Internet, and on store shelves. When kids buy a jersey, they’ll be sporting the team logo, player name, and now sponsor logo.
Being so lucrative, these ads will give companies a reason to invest in their local team. Teamwork outside of advertising between powerful corporations and NBA teams could economically benefit communities and their respective states in the future.
It also opens the door for other advertising opportunities for companies once they get their foot in the door with the NBA. Now we won’t just see Kia and BBVA sponsorships, but 30 teams’ additional advertisers too. Opening the door for more companies to advertise will get them prime ad real estate in their respective team’s market and at a national level.
It will give more companies a reason to get involved with the NBA. The NFL is the dominant sport in the U S of A. The more money advertisers pour into the league, the better off it will be. There will be more resources allowing expansion and increased awareness, and possibly, though not likely, begin to level the playing field between the two sports.
From a Fan’s Perspective
Jerseys strike up a sense of nostalgia among basketball fans. Every time I see a jersey from the 80s or 90s I’m brought back to that Golden Era of the sport. People in the future will look back at marked up jerseys that differ from jerseys of the league’s 70-year history.
I’m trying to envision what my beloved Milwaukee Bucks jerseys would look like with ads. A nice Bucks logo, Jabari’s name on the back and a Miller Lite logo on the shoulder. Now, I love (love is used very loosely here) some Miller Lite but I’m not sure if I want to see an ad for it on my team’s jersey.
Will this open the floodgates for even more jersey ads on the same jersey or open the door to jerseys in other major U.S. sports beyond soccer? I don’t want to turn on the TV and see a jersey like the one pictured below from a Euro league.
Let’s hope it doesn’t get to this point.