And So It Begins: NHL Takes First Steps Toward Idiocracy

For all photos, click to enlarge

The NHL officially entered the world of uniform advertising yesterday, as the Devils, Capitals, and Predators announced that their inaugural helmet advertisers will be, respectively, an insurance company, a bank, and a tire manufacturer (as seen from left to right above).

Let’s shift into FAQ mode:

So that’s it — every NHL team will have helmet ads forevermore?

For now it’s just a one-season program, although industry observers think there’s a strong chance it will be extended beyond that. Teams aren’t required to do it, but the expectation is that just about all of them will.

Will the ads appear on both sides of the helmet?

Yes.

Could they have a different advertiser for the other side of the helmet if they wanted?

As I understand it, that would not be permitted. Just one helmet advertiser per team.

Was there anything on that area of the helmet before?

Oh, just the team logo. Here’s a comparison for all three teams — old versions on left, new on right:

Will the ads also appear on goalies’ masks?

I’m not sure. But I suspect the goalies will wear the ad decals on their backplates.

What about the officials’ helmets?

Again, not sure.

It’s interesting that all three of these teams’ helmet advertisers are also the naming-rights advertisers for their respective arenas.

That’s definitely not a coincidence. As I explained last week, these NHL helmet ads will mostly be “make-goods,” meaning that they’re designed to provide compensatory value to companies that didn’t get the full bang for their advertising buck due to the pandemic. Arena-naming advertisers are first in line, because so much of last season was either cancelled or took place in neutral-site hubs. So for these helmet ads, either no cash was involved or the price was way below market value. In other words, these helmet ads aren’t about generating revenue — they’re about providing value that’s already been paid for.

So does that mean all the other teams’ helmet advertisers will also be their arena-name advertisers?

Too soon to say, but I suspect that many of them will be.

Why didn’t you give these ads the Mr. Yuk treatment?

I considered it. But since these are the first NHL uniform ads, it seemed important to show them (plus I didn’t want to bother my Photoshop guy so close to Christmas). For subsequent helmet ads, I won’t show the helmet decals and probably won’t Mr. Yuk them either — I’ll just ignore them, at least here on the Uni Watch website.

Today’s headline includes the word “Idiocracy,” which you often use to describe advertising or branding developments that you dislike. Can you explain what you mean by that?

Sure. Idiocracy was a 2006 movie directed by Mike Judge. It’s a satire about a futuristic world in which (among other societal ills) everything — everything — is advertised, sponsored, branded, endorsed, privatized, and so on. Here’s a typical scene:

The full movie is available on various platforms.

It seems like a pretty big leap from a little helmet decal to that.

Maybe. But like I said in today’s headline, it’s a first step. And a couple of things from yesterday’s announcements were distinctly Idiocratic. First, the package of photos that the Devils released yesterday to reporters, including me, featured various pics of players wearing ad-emblazoned helmets (which is what you’d expect) but also included an image called “Statue in Championship Plaza.jpg,” which showed the ad decal plastered onto the helmet of the statue outside the Devils’ arena:

After I tweeted that photo and called it the “grossest part of the Devils’ helmet-ad deal,” a team spokeswoman contacted me. “This was a joke,” she said. “We are not doing this. It’s not real.”

I’m certainly glad to hear they’re not doing it. But why would they joke about it? What exactly is the joke, even? What’s funny about it, except in an Idiocratic way?

The other eyebrow-raiser from yesterday is how the Capitals and Predators described their helmet advertisers. Did they say “advertiser”? No, of course not. “Sponsor”? Nope. “Partner”? Close, but you’re not quite there yet.

The Caps and Preds both described their new helmet advertisers as — get this — “helmet entitlement partners.”

I’d give anything to see the other phrases on the list before it got whittled down to that one. (If anyone has info on that, do tell.) I mean, “helmet entitlement partners” — what does that even mean? At some point this shit just becomes Orwellian. It sounds like a self-parody, or a Saturday Night Live sketch — or an outtake from Idiocracy.

What did the Devils call their helmet advertiser?

They didn’t directly describe the company. Instead, they said that they’re proud “to have brand placement on our helmets.” Again, anything to avoid using the word “advertising.”

You’re a writer, so you get too hung up on the wording of these descriptions. You’re always saying how there’s a big difference between a sponsor and an advertiser, but I think they mean the same thing, and so do most fans. Not everyone thinks about words like you do.

Fair enough. So let’s try a thought experiment: Let’s say, for the sake of this discussion, that you’re right, and that there’s no meaningful difference between “sponsor” and “advertiser.” If that’s the case, then we would expect those two terms to be used roughly the same amount in team press releases, social media posts, and so on, right? After all, you say they’re interchangeable, so why wouldn’t they be used in roughly equal measure?

But the reality, as I think we all know by now, is that teams never refer to uniform ads as “advertisements,” nor do they ever refer to the companies purchasing those ads as “advertisers.” So clearly I’m not the only one who sees a difference between those two terms — the teams and leagues see it as well.

Why do you think they word things that way?

I think they recognize, deep down, that what they’re doing is soulless and shameful, and I think they also know that most people have a generally negative perception of the advertising industry. So they do their best to avoid referencing that word, even if it means they end up tying themselves into rhetorical knots.

You’re such a hypocrite! All this anti-advertising talk, but your website is littered with ads!

Sigh. We’ve been through this so many times. Here, read this.

I’ve read that page before. Basically, you think uniform advertising sucks but web advertising is fine, which is mighty convenient for you.

Actually, there are all sorts of web advertising that I’m not fine with. For example, I turn down requests almost every week from companies that want to put video ads on Uni Watch, because I don’t want those types of ads on our site (even though video ads are much more lucrative than static ads). And I turn down requests literally every day from companies that want to run “sponsored posts” or paid links on Uni Watch, because I want no part of that stuff.

You’re gonna get a sore shoulder from patting yourself on the back like that.

Oh, I’m not suggesting that I deserve a medal or anything. I’m just explaining (for the umpteenth time) that not all advertising is equal — I’m fine with some kinds, not so fine with others. Even if you’re okay with uniform ads, there are probably some places where you think advertising doesn’t belong (like on the door of City Hall, or in the hallways of your kid’s elementary school, or in giant LED lettering on your neighbor’s roof). If that’s the case, then we basically agree that there are certain lines that advertising should not cross — we just happen to draw those lines in different places.

I don’t see what all the fuss is about. Every time there’s a new type of uniform branding or advertising — the New Era logo on MLB caps, NBA uni ads, the Nike logo on MLB jersey chests, and now NHL helmet ads — we hear how it’s going to be the end of the world. But the games keep being played and the world keeps on spinning. What the big deal?

Respectfully, I think you’re exaggerating. Nobody ever said uniform advertising would be the end of the world. But each turn of this particular screw does make the world, or at least our little corner of it, a bit less pleasant, less enjoyable, more annoying, more dispiriting. It’s not a nuclear bomb, or even a neutron bomb; it’s more like death by a thousand cuts, or a million mosquito bites.

No cuts or bites for me — I like uniform advertising! I hope we see more of it.

That’s a perfectly legitimate position. I just happen to disagree with it.

I don’t like helmet advertising, but they need the revenue to make up for their pandemic losses. How do you expect them to do that?

As I’ve already explained, most of these helmet deals are make-goods, so they’re not generating new revenue.

But let’s look at the larger implication of your statement: Do they really need to make up revenue, or do they just want to? According to the league’s own figures, last season’s revenue (which is not the same as last season’s profit) was down by 14% over the previous year. That’s a drop, for sure, but it’s not a drastic drop. Businesses all over America dealt with similar revenue decreases last year, and most of them didn’t choose to sell their souls in response. When you say they “need” to make up for last revenue, you’re basically treating the pre-pandemic revenue level as an entitlement. I don’t see it that way.

Helmet ads are better than jersey ads.

Sure, and the flu is better than Covid. But I’d rather just say healthy and not get sick in the first place.

Helmet ads suck, but they’re better than having the season cancelled.

Okay, but there’s no indication that these helmet ads — most of which, again, are make-goods, not revenue sources — are the difference-maker in terms of saving this season. Moreover, there’s no indication that a 14% revenue drop would force the league to cancel its season.

I get what you’re saying, and I even agree with most of it, but I just don’t have the energy to oppose every little thing.

I totally get that. We all have to pick our battles. I’ve happened to pick this one; you may pick other ones. Godspeed to both of us.

Any other news related to all this?

Yes. The Capitals’ helmet advertiser will also be the “presenting partner” of their Reverse Retro jersey, which apparently means that all of the team’s RR games will be “presented by [such-and-such bank]” — which of course is just another form of advertising, although they’ll never use that word.

———

I think that covers it. The NHL season begins on Jan. 13 — three weeks from today.

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Click to enlarge

NBA Season Preview reminder: In case you missed it on Monday, the annual Uni Watch NBA Season Preview, with everything you need to know about this season’s new uniforms, logos, courts, and more (including the Nets’ new tie-dye throwback, the Hawks’ new uni set, and the Suns’ new City alternate, all shown above), is available now on InsideHook. Enjoy!

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LAST CALL for the year-end raffle: Today is the final day to enter our annual year-end raffle, in which I give away all the freebies I’ve received over the course of the year. Full details here.

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The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball News: The Venezuelan Professional Baseball League has opened a new stadium in the city of Macuto, which is currently being used as a bubble site as part of this season’s pandemic safety protocols and will serve in the future as the home of the Tiburones de La Guaira (from Kary Klismet).

Football News: Here’s a Calgary Stampeders uniform history (from Wade Heidt). … LSU wore the same uni combo for every game this season because they had no non-conference games due to the pandemic (from Ernie Ballard). … Nevada was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct with 17 seconds to go in the Idaho Potato Bowl last night because the team gave head coach Jay Norvell a French fries shower (instead of a sports drink shower) and some of the fries landed five yards onto the field of play (from Mike Chamernik). … Here’s a graphic showing all the jersey motifs and uni numbers for NFL players who played college ball under new Illinois coach Bret Bielema (from Scott Hurley).

Hockey News: Flyers mascot Gritty has started an online petition to be allowed to participate in NHL game activities in spite of pandemic safety restrictions in the upcoming season (from Kary Klismet). … Here are the masks for Team Canada goaltenders Devon Levi, Dylan Garland, and Taylor Gauthier for the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championships (from Wade Heidt). … The Caps will unveil a new alternate uniform after Jan. 1.

NBA News: No ad patch for Warriors SG/SF Kent Bazemore last night against the Nets (from Christophe Davy). … A Nike bike-share bike has been spotted in Portland with a paint scheme based on the Blazers’ new City uniform (from Chris Lamb). … The Lakers said they won’t unveil their championship banner until fans can be on hand for the ceremony (from Kary Klismet). … Lots of NBA courts are apparently featuring ads along the baseline this season. … Although the Bucks’ uniforms are currently ad-free, team prexy Peter Feigin says he expects to have a new advertiser in 2021 (it’s at the very end of that Q&A piece). As usual, both the interviewer and Feigin avoided using any variant of the word “advertiser,” simply referring to the uni ad as a “jersey patch.”

College Hoops News: Akron wore pink last night (from Aaron Putka). … VCU G Nah’Shon Hyland’s uniform side panels were badly mismatched last night. Turns out he has his jersey specially tailored because he likes to wear it tight (from Mario Murillo and Jarrett Mustain). … An Indiana Hoosiers blog has put together a list of high school gyms that could serve as NCAA Tournament sites if the tourney is held entirely within the state of Indiana due to pandemic-related safety regulations (from Kary Klismet). … Also from Kary: Did you know that in the late 1960s and early ’70s, Gonzaga wore sleeved basketball jerseys with the school’s initials on the sleeves and no wordmark across the chest? … The scorebug for yesterday’s Albany/Niagara game showed both teams in purple, even though neither team was wearing purple (from @JW8771). … Michigan State wore their ridiculous BFBS alternates the other night (from @SportsConcepts1).

Soccer News: Here are the mascots for the six remaining teams in Japan’s Emperor’s Cup, Japan’s national soccer championship (from Jeremy Brahm). … Also from Jeremy: New kits for Japanese side Zweigen Kanazawa. … Ricardo Ferretti, coach of Mexican side Tigres, wore a pink bib on the sidelines yesterday (from Trevor Williams).

Grab Bag: A Redditor has broken down number fonts and their effectiveness in Formula 1 (from Greg Schwanbeck). … Here’s an interesting article about the most controversial logo rebrands of 2020 (from Kary Klismet).

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55 comments to And So It Begins: NHL Takes First Steps Toward Idiocracy

  • Alex Dewitt | December 23, 2020 at 7:49 am |

    Alright so we now have:
    -Full time NBA ad patches
    -Full time NHL helmet decals
    -MLB possibly going ads on helmets or sleeves next year
    -NFL having ads on practice sets

    we’re edging closer to full uni hell

    • David A Dahl | December 23, 2020 at 8:48 am |

      I’d say something about “the camel’s nose under the tent,” but the camel and / or the tent would have to have a “presenting sponsor.”

  • Ryan B. | December 23, 2020 at 7:51 am |

    Correction for your football news in the Ticker: Bret Bielema (sp) is the NEW coach at Illinois, and the graphic depicts players who played for Bielema during his previous head coaching positions at both Wisconsin and Arkansas.

    • Paul Lukas | December 23, 2020 at 7:53 am |

      Ah, thank you — will fix!

  • BurghFan | December 23, 2020 at 8:02 am |

    The Nevada football team somehow had access to a bucket of french fries at the Potato Bowl, which I doubt was there for snacking. But when some of the fries they poured on their coach ended up on the blue turf, it was a penalty.

    Maybe someone needs to rethink this.

  • Ben | December 23, 2020 at 8:07 am |

    Albana?

    • Paul Lukas | December 23, 2020 at 8:08 am |

      Thanks. Fixed.

  • Ron Ruelle | December 23, 2020 at 8:18 am |

    The name Denver’s arena changed from Pepsi Center to Ball Arena during the offseason. It will be interesting to see if the Avalanche make good on the Pepsi sponsorship by sullying their helmets with that logo or boldly look forward to the new present by adding the indignity of the Ball logo.

    • Harvey Lee | December 23, 2020 at 10:29 am |

      Would be very wrong for a hockey team to wear “ball” on their helmets

  • Jon | December 23, 2020 at 8:46 am |

    Not only are you solidly not a hypocrite for advertising, I’m very glad you do. I have bought a few naming wrongs shirts for friends and have bought from Tokens & Icons. I would have never known about those products had you not advertised them and I’m very happy with the purchases.

    On another note, the so bad they’re good unis: 1994-2001 era Cleveland Lumberjacks. The picture is from when the current team wore as a throwback, but you can get the idea.

    https://thesinbin.net/cleveland-lumberjacks-the-lands-last-ihl-team/

    Here’s an article about Cleveland hockey history, but scroll down for a Y2K turn ahead the clock lumberjacks sweater.

    http://thirdstringgoalie.blogspot.com/2015/07/1999-00-cleveland-lumberjacks-evgeni.html

  • Scott302 | December 23, 2020 at 8:53 am |

    I always love reading your FAQs/interviews with yourself, Paul. Death by mosquito bites is a good way of putting it. Everyone’s personal breaking point is different. This may be my year to be a radio only fan (for NHL and MLB anyway).

  • Joel Frank | December 23, 2020 at 9:18 am |

    Watching last night’s Nets game, I noticed a new perimeter court design which evokes the NYC Subway System. The font for the word “Brooklyn ” appears to be the font used in the Subway’s signs and the broken dashes around the court look like the white subway tiles. A very clever and cool tribute to the city!

  • Wade Heidt | December 23, 2020 at 9:19 am |

    Further re: Calgary Stampeders and their uniform history.

    The Stampeders are one of the rare pro football teams that have worn both gold and silver pants in their existence (49ers the other one – maybe more?). Notably Stamps doing it again in the modern era in some games only seasons apart.

    Examples. 2008 Labour Day Classic in the gold pants:

    https://d3ham790trbkqy.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/15005658/82205.jpg

    2010 wearing the silver pants when sporting the 1970s throwbacks:

    https://farm5.static.flickr.com/4142/4896774912_847503e3e4.jpg

    Also interesting is they may be the first pro football team to regularly wear a third jersey (not counting throwbacks). The alternate black jersey became part of their uniform arsenal in the 1994 season and they’ve had a black alternate jersey ever since.

  • Doug | December 23, 2020 at 9:22 am |

    (Just catching up after a couple days away)

    Paul, to steal a quote from an old Saturday Night Live skit, sometimes a banana is just a banana.

    Isn’t it possible that Marco Rubio might own a University of Sioux Falls t-shirt for some reason that has nothing to do with everyone’s assumption that it was supposed to be some special t-shirt ordered specifically for some photo opp?

    I’ll tend to give the benefit of the doubt to the wearer. Isn’t it possible he has a niece who attended the University of Sioux Falls? Or maybe someone gave it to him while on the campaign trail, or perhaps when he was on a book signing in Sioux Falls (or nearby Iowa?)

    I find those possibillities far more likely than the notion that a politician and his campaign employees had such an attention to detail that they specifically ordered a certain t-shirt for a photo opp, and then everyone involved overlooked the fact that the t-shirt is the wrong school, wrong colors, wrong mascot, and wrong nickname.

    Besides, if a politician, any polictician, and his campaign people had such an eye for the minutiae that they wanted to assure he was wearing a South Florida TShirt for political purposes, isn’t it likely that he would already own a University of South Florida TShirt? He’s been a Senator in that state for ten years!

    The reality is, the nations largest online athletic apparel retailer, Fanatics.com, doesn’t even sell University of Sioux Falls Tshirts. Ditto for amazon.com and dickssportinggoods.com. And a google search for “USF TShirt” under “Shopping” renders no results for the University of Sioux Falls in the first five pages.

    The point is, a shopper would have to go far out of their way to find a University of Sioux Falls t-shirt even if they wanted one, and the chance that they would unintentionally stumble across one while seeking another is practically non-existent.

    People can look at a cloud and see whatever they want to see, but it’s still just a cloud.

    And in this case, a t-shirt is just a t-shirt.

    • DAF | December 23, 2020 at 1:00 pm |

      You think it’s more likely that Rubio has some tenuous connection to the University of Sioux Falls, and/or didn’t give any thought to what he was going to wear when he knew he’d be photographed, rather than that he is simply a cynical, bumbling doofus? I think his long history of being a cynical, bumbling doofus suggests otherwise.

      • Doug | December 24, 2020 at 10:30 am |

        That’s right, I forgot, he’s colorblind, illiterate, and can’t tell the difference between a bull and a panther.

        That still doesn’t explain how he inadverently stumbled across a t-shirt that’s practically non-existent and unavailable from any of the major online retailers.

        • DAF | December 24, 2020 at 2:58 pm |

          If you look closely, you’ll see that I characterized him as a cynical, bumbling doofus – not colorblind, illiterate, or zoologically impaired. I don’t know how he got the shirt either. Happy holidays!

  • Wade Heidt | December 23, 2020 at 9:23 am |

    Not happy with ads on helmets. Much better with the team’s logo in that spot. A small uniform detail that was fun to monitor has now just become an ad. I believe from seeing some of the photo releases from the Capitals that the team logo on the helmets will be moved to one side on the back, opposite of the NHL logo at the other side of the helmet’s back.

    • MJ | December 23, 2020 at 11:24 am |

      Agreed. This looks so minor-league.

  • Eddie | December 23, 2020 at 9:32 am |

    I respect your stance on advertising and all but I do wish when you mention in headlines like yesterday when the Oakland Coliseum got renamed, you mentioned “RingCentral Coliseum” in the headline to save people a click to find out what the name is.

    • Tom | December 23, 2020 at 11:28 am |

      Ha. “Saving people the click” is literally the antithesis of the click bait to advertisers you followed and why the post was structured the way it was. Everyone has to make an income, especially guys providing a free, very informative blog.

      • Paul Lukas | December 23, 2020 at 12:28 pm |

        Tom, I think you’re misunderstanding the situation.

        Eddie is referring to a Ticker item that said that the Oakland Coliseum has a new advertised name but didn’t mention what the name was, so he had to click on the linked article in order to find out, which he apparently found annoying. Uni Watch got nothing for Eddie’s click on that story.

        The reason we tend not to name the advertisers in such stories is that I see no reason to give free exposure to them, and I prefer not to further normalize or legitimize the phenomenon of corporate naming rights. That’s all.

        • Eddie | December 23, 2020 at 5:40 pm |

          Thank you for understanding what I meant Paul, also since this is your blog you are free to do that.

          Have a happy holidays!

        • Paul Lukas | December 23, 2020 at 5:43 pm |

          You too, Eddie!

  • RandomAnonymousGuy | December 23, 2020 at 9:35 am |

    >And I turn down requests literally every day from companies that want to run “sponsored posts” or paid links on Uni Watch, because I want no part of that stuff.

    For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t have a problem with either of these, as long as they were clearly labeled and somewhat related to uni-content.

    But I am very appreciative that you don’t allow video ads or other intrusive ads.

    I wonder why I don’t have an issue with the paid links/content stuff… I can’t put my finger on it.

  • GreetingsADM | December 23, 2020 at 9:35 am |

    Is the FAQ actually a list of frequently asked questions or is it questions asked by an imaginary Uni Fan in Paul’s head? I guess if he asks himself those questions frequently, that would count.

    My opinion of ads is that they remind you that the sport you are watching is a purely capitalist exercise. The owners care little about the sport as much as they care about having a venue to exert their whims in a way that has nearly no effect on the profitability of the product.

    • RS Rogers | December 23, 2020 at 2:51 pm |

      Purely a *profit-seeking* enterprise. Very few leagues and teams in North America actually operate as capitalist enterprises. Capitalism means that capital – the means by which the good or service to be sold is produced – is held privately. But for most sports leagues and teams, the fundamental means of production is their stadium or arena, and in North America the vast majority of those are financed, built, and owned by the public. Public ownership of the means of production is socialism. So for most sports teams and leagues in North America, we have a hybrid socialist system in which financial risk is left to the public while profits are kept by private operators. Which is actually true of a lot of the American economy; Americans looooove socialism, as long as we 1) Don’t call it “socialism” and 2) Ensure that someone who isn’t on the hook of things go south pockets the profits rather than the public.

      I’ve been involved in building a couple of small-organization websites, and rather than having a FAQ section with fake questions that we anticipate people will have, I’ve pushed to post an initial FUQ section: Frequently Unasked Questions.

  • MG | December 23, 2020 at 9:51 am |

    For those who struggle with the difference between an advertiser and a sponsor, think about it this way.

    An advertiser pays to have their message shown a certain number of times, be it a one time or several hundred/thousand over a set time frame. A commercial airing during a hockey broadcast.

    A sponsor pays to have their branding present at all times over a duration, think a corporate logo painted on the boards at a hockey arena.

    • Paul Lukas | December 23, 2020 at 10:02 am |

      Actually, both of those things you just described are very straightforward forms of advertising.

      Let’s please not muddy these waters with marketing doublespeak. Thanks.

    • sandman | December 23, 2020 at 10:10 am |

      and a politician speaks many words, yet says nothing….

    • James | December 23, 2020 at 10:12 am |

      That doesn’t make sense. According to that logic, a company who has their information on a billboard on the highway is a “sponsor.”

      • Paul Lukas | December 23, 2020 at 10:13 am |

        Exactly. Let’s please ignore this silliness and move on.

  • Hank-SJ | December 23, 2020 at 9:56 am |
  • sandman | December 23, 2020 at 10:08 am |

    re: NHL Helmet ads

    If I still gave a rats patooty about the NHL I’d be horrified by these helmet ads…funny how the Canadian ‘press’ is playing it as a temporary measure to recoup losses during the pandemic..but the puckheads up here aren’t by nature very witty….

    I’m more concerned by the NHL’s extreme sense of entitlement to have their players earn a living while my province just went into a 28 day lockdown & we’re all being told to stay in our homes… F.U. to the NHL!

    I still get numb fingers in cold rooms from a childhood spent on unlit hockey rinks…but I won’t watch professional hockey ever again….done & done!

  • Greg Lamm | December 23, 2020 at 10:29 am |

    Paul, I know that you are a fan of punk rock. I was wondering if you are aware of the effort to make this song #1 in Britain for Christmas?

    https://youtu.be/gKOo8rd6T7s

    • Paul Lukas | December 23, 2020 at 10:30 am |

      Was not aware of it.

  • Phil P | December 23, 2020 at 10:32 am |

    I’ve said this before regarding ads on sports uniforms, but I personally can’t think of any more useless and less return than ads on sports uniforms. I can’t imagine that the number of people who begin to use businesses that advertise on uniforms/arena simply because of constant exposure to those brands. Maybe advertisers continue to justify it as “exposure is good” but I really doubt there’s any real benefit to the advertising. I wish we could see some studies on it

  • Mr. Moeschberger | December 23, 2020 at 10:46 am |

    The thing about uniform advertisements that bothers me, aside from the aesthetics of it, is that American sports made a decision to alter gameplay for ads (baseball being the exception) while keeping the presentation of the teams unsullied. This is in stark contrast to soccer, where the uniform has been for sale for a long time, but there are not artificial breaks in the action to run commercials.

    I’m not quite sure what that says about American culture in general, but there’s something in there about style over substance….

  • MJ | December 23, 2020 at 11:25 am |

    “Prexy”? I get it if you’re a headline writer for Variety. But in a paragraph where space isn’t a concern, it comes off as more than a little too precious and affected. But you do you, man. :)

    • Matt | December 23, 2020 at 12:34 pm |

      He’s used it previously, and it’s his blog.

  • DAF | December 23, 2020 at 12:56 pm |

    Well, those helmet ads look just awful. Bush league.

  • KW | December 23, 2020 at 1:01 pm |

    Yes, advertiser and sponsor are interchangeable to some degree. And of course they use the term sponsor instead of advertiser…what is wrong with this? Why would you not use the term that is more flattering for the occasion?

    A company who gives money to a youth sports team and get’s their name on the jersey (Chico’s Bail Bonds) is sponsoring the team and getting an advertisement in return.

    A company who pays for the cleanup on the side of a freeway/highway is sponsoring that part of the freeway.

    Professional sports is no different…the economics do not work purely on revenue from tickets, merchandise, etc. They also rely on sponsors. You can be a sponsor and get your name on a brick outside of the stadium or a sponsor and get your name on a seat.

    • Paul Lukas | December 23, 2020 at 1:15 pm |

      Yes, advertiser and sponsor are interchangeable to some degree. And of course they use the term sponsor instead of advertiser…what is wrong with this? Why would you not use the term that is more flattering for the occasion?

      Ken, you know how much I appreciate your friendship and support. But … first you say they’re “interchangeable”; then you say one term is “more flattering,” which means you’re actually acknowledging that they’re *not* interchangeable.

      And of course they’re very different. One of those terms deceptively frames the situation in a false cloak of fellowship and goodwill, instead of simply acknowledging that the situation is based on transactional commerce. There’s nothing inherently wrong with transactional commerce, of course — hell, sports teams are in the business of transactional commerce, and so are their sponsors advertisers — so why not simply call it what it is instead of dressing it up as something it’s not?

      My feelings about the differences between the two terms (including the Chico’s Bail Bonds example!) is spelled out in much greater detail here.

      As for commemorative bricks: Come on — nobody’s “sponsoring” a brick. You’re BUYING a brick!

  • Rob S | December 23, 2020 at 1:27 pm |

    “helmet entitlement partners”

    To quote Dr. Perry Cox from Scrubs, “I’m gagging and vomiting at the same time! I’m… gavomiting!”

  • Jon Keefer | December 23, 2020 at 1:38 pm |

    Sponsor, think Chico’s Bail Bonds. They provided the Bears with the uniforms. Advertiser, the team is offering that space for sale. Think NHL helmets. Thanks for the self interview today Paul, always enjoy those.

    • RS Rogers | December 23, 2020 at 2:57 pm |

      Exactly. “Sponsor” is a useful word with a specific definition that could even apply to a business having its logo on a sports team’s uniform. But none of the big North American pro sports leagues have sponsors. Lots of amateur, youth, and semipro teams do have sponsors.

      I’d even be willing to regard corporate ownership of a team as a form of sponsorship. So the famous example of the Nippon Ham Fighters, I’m happy to consider that an outlying example of sponsorship as opposed to advertising. It’s a debatable call, and others will disagree, but I’d rather see the bank-owned Capital One Washington Capitals have that name than see the non-bank-owned Washington Capitals wearing a Capital One ad on their uniforms.

  • Jon Keefer | December 23, 2020 at 3:17 pm |

    The Motorola Nets, w no M logo on the jersey VS. The Brooklyn Nets w an M logo on the jersey. Fair way to look at it. I also pose the questions to fans. Does this work? Let’s say I am a Devils fan and don’t use the services of Prudential or work for a competing company do I quit my job? Do I stop rooting for a team or stop watching a sport? Or do I go all out and use their services cus they align with my team? Such a rabbit hole we can all go down…I grew up in Sacramento and didn’t buy any more or less Blue Diamond Almonds then I did before or after so for me, no.

  • Marcus Ramsey | December 23, 2020 at 4:14 pm |

    I think Paul’s point is proven in today’s comments. There’s people that think the sponsored companies are different from advertisers.

    These aren’t little league teams that need uniforms so they go find someone to sponsor them because they aren’t making money from tickets/merch/ect.

    These are multi-million dollar organizations that sell overpriced tickets so you can go eat overpriced food while wearing overpriced merchandise. Oh you don’t go the games? Well then here’s a commercial every chance we can get, and half the things that happen in the game will have a company tied to them as well.

    They are then being told “Hey for a few million can we put our logo on your uniform?” and they happily agree. The only reason we only are seeing small patches and small helmet ads is because they have to condition people to the ads being normal. If the NBA changed their unis looked like the WNBA unis do now, people would be outraged, but you put a small ad on the jersey and people don’t mind/notice. A few years go by, and especially with the excuse of COVID, and you can say “Oh we need to put a small ad under the number on the back, it’s on the back and out of the way so no big deal.” Like Paul mentioned, it’s a bunch of small bites, so before long there’s an ad on the front, back, a patch, on the shorts and so on.

    And the game itself may not change, and it might not bother some at all, but it looks awful to me.

  • GrrBulls!!! | December 23, 2020 at 8:04 pm |

    i just wish we’d remeber that sports may not exist without adverstisers, thnk of the ACME Pakcrs uniforms

    • Paul Lukas | December 23, 2020 at 8:23 pm |

      Leaving aside the fairly obvious fact that a ragtag football team that existed more than a century ago bears approximately zero resemblance to a modern-day pro sports franchise, the Acme Packing Company was not a third-party advertiser on the Packers’ uniforms. They *owned* the team.

  • GrrBulls!!! | December 23, 2020 at 8:52 pm |

    i did not realize that