Advertisements are everywhere at NBA games. There are digital signs on scorers’ tables, logos placed cleverly on backboard supports, and arenas with names like Staples Center and FedEx Forum. Now, the league plans to take things further—by allowing sponsors’ logos on players’ jerseys.
New NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced last month that ads on uniforms are likely coming in the next five years, pointing to international soccer and basketball clubs as precedent for turning players into billboards.
“We know what the value is to advertisers in a world of 1,000-plus channels to be able to show fans in-game branding,” Silver said.
Under the current proposal, each team is allowed one patch, and each patch would be 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches.
In 2011, as Deputy Commissioner, Silver estimated that putting logos on uniforms could be $100 million a year to the NBA. At the time, then-commissioner David Stern opposed the idea.
The WNBA started putting ads on jerseys in 2009. Los Angeles Sparks jerseys now display a Farmer’s Insurance logo where the team name used to be, which bothers some fans.
Should the NBA go the way of NASCAR and adorn athletes with corporate logos? Will ads on jerseys tarnish the NBA’s brand? How far is too far when it comes to this type of advertising?
Paul Swangard, Managing Director, Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, University of Oregon