NBA commissioner Adam Silver has regularly talked up the supposed inevitability of official uniforms featuring advertisements, which would serve as another revenue stream for the league and continue the professional sports world’s embrace of leveraging every available surface for financial gain.
It’s odd for Silver to talk about his clear preference as if it is part of the unalterable course of basketball history, especially when he has the power to set the league upon a different path, but continued comments on the matter indicate that the NBA will attempt to make jersey ads happen sooner rather than later. Expect them as soon as the owners and players’ union can agree on a profit-sharing plan.That negotiation likely won’t come for several years, though, which means that Silver and the NBA are losing precious opportunities to slap ads onto jersey tops. What’s a commissioner to do?
Fortunately for Silver, All-Star Game jerseys do not fall under these negotiations. So it looks like we’re going to see ever-present Kia ads during this February’s exhibition in Toronto and 2017’s in Charlotte. From Sara Germano for the Wall Street Journal:
The National Basketball Association is planning to put a sponsored 3.25-inch-by-1.6-inch patch with a Kia Motors Corp. logo on the upper left chest of player jerseys for both the 2016 and 2017 All-Star games, according to the league. The patch, part of an advertising buy between media rights holder Turner Sports and sponsor Kia Motors America, will also appear on All-Star jerseys available for retail sale. The companies declined to disclose financial terms.
Jersey ads in the U.S. are fraught with logistical complications, including finding sponsors that satisfy all parties and determining how to divide the revenue among leagues, team owners and broadcasters. Historically, opponents have included some athletic gear makers, who pay hundreds of millions for exclusive rights to outfit pro sports leagues and are wary of crowding jerseys with ads for other brands. Adidas AG , the league’s official jersey outfitter through the 2016-17 season, declined to comment.
“It’s something we’ve been looking at for a number of years,” said Emilio Collins, executive vice president of global marketing partnerships for the NBA. Asked if jersey ads are coming for regular-season NBA play, he said, “We continue to work on that beyond All-Star, with all the considerations we have to factor in,” adding that the exhibition-game ads will be evaluated as a test-run.
The NBA arrangement was brokered between the league and Turner Sports, the broadcast rights holder to the All-Star Game. A provision for sponsored jersey patches was included in the contract between the NBA and Turner Sports when it was negotiated last year, according to Jon Diament, executive vice president of Turner Sports ad sales. Kia has secured the rights to jersey patches for both the 2016 and 2017 All-Star Games, according to a spokesman.
Germano notes that this is the first time that sponsorships will appear on MLB, NFL, NHL, or NBA jerseys — the NBA-affiliated WNBA and Major League Soccer have had them for several years — which is technically true but also a bit misleading given that companies like Nike and Adidas pay billions to put their logos on official uniforms and apparel. The mere fact that these companies have usually opposed jerseys patches gives up the game — their logos serve as advertisements even if they are not classified as such.
Nevertheless, this Kia partnership is a new venture if only because an affordable automobile does not seem to have much to do with a low-effort basketball game featuring the sport’s biggest stars. Yet that’s a difference of degree and not kind, because Kia served as an essential part of Blake Griffin’s 2011 dunk contest win and is a safe bet to show up in every other commercial break during a nationally televised game. It’s silly to think that the character of the league will change with this new effort, because basketball events already serve as platforms for all manner of promotional opportunities. This battle was decided long ago.
Frankly, the greatest impact of the on-jersey Kia ad could be to make the 2016 and 2017 All-Star Game tops extremely uncool to wear in any social setting. Mid-market practicality is never the greatest fashion statement.
SOURCE: YAHOO SPORTS