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Oops: Giants’ Uni Advertiser Cited as Public Safety Menace

You know that enormous sleeve advertisement that the Giants began wearing in August? They probably won’t be wearing it again next season.

That’s because the advertiser — a company built around self-driving cars — has just had its permit to operate revoked by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which cited an “unreasonable risk to public safety” after a series of accidents involving the advertiser’s cars.

Per this article, the DMV said that the advertiser’s vehicles “pose a danger to the public and that the company had misrepresented key facts when dealing with safety regulators.”

This would be more embarrassing if the Giants were currently active in the postseason, but it’s still pretty bad. And this isn’t the first time MLB has ended up with egg on its face due to a uniform advertisement. In 2022, the league plastered the umpires with ads for a cryptocurrency exchange, only to sheepishly remove them after the exchange went bankrupt a few months later. The exchange’s founder is now facing trial for fraud and conspiracy.

Obviously, it’s impossible for a team or a league — or anyone else, for that matter — to guarantee that all of their business partners will be beyond reproach. Hell, I’m sure some companies that advertise here on Uni Watch have unsavory episodes in their pasts. But uniform ads aren’t just any old business transactions — they’re big-money, multi-year deals that are announced with a lot of fanfare and are literally in the public eye every day of the season. So you’d think the teams and leagues would be a bit more careful about vetting the people they’re doing business with for these types of deals, wouldn’t you?

Or maybe that’s naïve. Maybe they just hold out for the highest bid and then run to cash the check.

Anyway. The Giants will have the entire offseason to come up with a new sleeve advertiser. I know they’re in Silicon Valley and all, but maybe they should think twice about whoring out their uni to another tech firm.


Comments (35)

    Have the Giants actually stated that they are terminating their current advertiser? It wouldn’t surprise me if they kept it, as tone-deaf as that might be.

    If the company isn’t reinstated to do business in California, they likely won’t pay for the ad (and I’d expect they have a clause in their contract allowing them to terminate under such a circumstance).

    “Or maybe that’s naïve. Maybe they just hold out for the highest bid and then run to cash the check.”

    Paul, the little part of me that’s a cynic says you nailed it.

    Kinda like the Guardians, proudly debuting their Marathon Petroleum patch while climate-change-enhanced Canadian wildfires were choking Clevelanders trying to attend their games.

    Wasn’t it the lack of forest maintenance, done in the name of stopping climate change, that caused the fires?

    Cruise is owned by GM, so it’s possible that they just swap it out for one of their other brands, maybe Hummer since those are electric.

    Paul, the Giants knew that the company was wildly unpopular and had many accusations of unsafe practices when they signed the deal. They had to have known because everyone else seemed to know. It had to be money grab.

    The Giants also have a long history of taking stadium ads from oil and auto interests, so nothing about this was terribly out of character, Still, for a franchise that does seem to act out of a sense of at least _appearing_ to do good quite often (first female coach, first team to do LGBTQ days, etc.) it’s surprising that they didn’t vet it a little harder, particularly given the negative opinion most SF residents have of self-driving cars.

    This reminds me of a story that, while not a direct analog, bears some similarities.

    About fifteen years ago, I worked in food service. A customer came in wearing a pullover branded with ‘CMGI Field.’ CMGI was the original ‘naming rights partner’ for the Patriots’ new stadium in 2002. But they went out of business before the stadium was completed, so it was never called that. I asked him about it, and he said he worked for one of the contractors that worked on it.

    As much as I hate these ‘sponsorships,’ the fact that the building wound up ‘sponsored’ by a locally significant firm makes it less bad, in my opinion.

    I do think that a ‘naming wrongs’ shirt that says ‘I still call it CMGI Field’ would be funny.

    The name change came late enough in the game (no pun intended) that they actually DID call it “CMGI Field” in that year’s edition of NFL 2K3–menus, in-game graphics, even announcer dialog!

    (At least in the release-day version—the game came out only a week after they dropped “CMGI” so it had probably already shipped; I don’t know if they ever fixed it in subsequent production runs, like to stock back up for Christmas sales or anything.)

    For at least the first season, the trash barrels and beer cups at Gillette still bore the CMGI field logo. It was pretty funny.

    There are definitely some corporate sponsors that just “feel” better than others because of local connections. Heinz Field, Ford Field, Busch Stadium, Coors Field, PPG Paints Arena. It almost reminds me of the old school little league teams that are just named after some local business that sponsors them. (Tonight, Sal’s Pizza is taking on Daisy’s Auto Body!)

    I’d still rather a more organic name, but a long standing local company is a close second.

    I didn’t realize that LL teams weren’t named that way any longer. I played for two years for ‘Dean Dairy,’ a local ice cream spot sadly no longer around. (That was 35 years ago.)

    Ford makes sense, since the family still owns the team. In terms of (semi-) appropriate local brands, don’t forget Wrigley.

    Wrigley isn’t named for the chewing-gum company, it’s named after former owner William Wrigley, Jr., who also owned the chewing-gum company. If it was named for the corporation it would be called “Wrigley’s” field, or “Mars-Wrigley” field.

    I can’t stand the Steelers, but Heinz changing to a monstrosity called “Acrisure” felt like a betrayal of public trust.

    “[Y]ou’d think the teams and leagues would be a bit more careful about vetting the people they’re doing business with for these types of deals, wouldn’t you?”

    This league? Absolutely not. The NFL or NBA? Sure. But MLB seems mainly to operate on the level of “Did the check clear?” And it’s precisely where honesty about the nature of the relationship would benefit the league. If the league dropped dishonest euphemisms like “sponsor” and “partner” in favor of the straightforward “advertiser,” then it would be easy to brush off the third-party wrongdoing. Like, serial killers infamously sometimes take out classified ads, and nobody blames newspapers for failing to catch the murderers who do so. That’s ubiquitously understood to be, appropriately, a “did the check clear” commercial relationship. Nobody expects high-level due diligence when inking a contract with an advertiser. But a “sponsor” or “partner”? Heck yeah I expect a higher level of due diligence, because both of those words strongly imply a level of endorsement by the league of the other party and its products and services.

    I don’t think any of these leagues do it better than another. NBA and NFL had problems with FTX as well.

    You can’t seriously believe that the NFL — notorious for taking millions of dollars from the US military for the right to expose fans to literal war propaganda every year — has a moral compass here in a way that MLB doesn’t, can you?

    The other person who replied to you is correct. There’s very little difference in how these ads are vetted between leagues; once the decision is made to allow ads on the field or on uniforms, the main criteria always seems to be “how quickly can you pay us.”

    Our women and men who Serve our country are as diverse as our nation….it is one of the hardest jobs one can attempt…they ARE the “US Military” and they deserve all the support they can get, regardless of politics….I have never had a problem with the US military sponsoring sports….it helps with recruiting and huge for morale…
    Literally, Peace…

    “But uniform ads aren’t just any old business transactions — they’re big-money, multi-year deals that are announced with a lot of fanfare and are literally in the public eye every day of the season.”

    Also too, all these leagues and teams love to frame these transactions as “partnerships” or “collaborations” or whatever. If the Giants are promoting an entity that, it turns out, is putting people’s lives in danger, they should be held to higher scrutiny.

    There are lots of reasons why teams should drop the BS move of saying the patches are “partnerships” or “sponsorships” rather than calling them ads as we all know they are. All that effort to make it look like you’re “teaming up” with Company X makes it harder to distance yourself if Company X becomes toxic. If you call it an ad? “We have chosen to terminate our jersey advertising agreement with Company X.” Just as you would if Company X had an ad on your outfield wall before they became toxic.
    (For a cautionary tale of corporate stadium naming, see Enron Field.)

    It would be great if the Ralph Loren company got the stadium naming rights for the Giant’s ballpark. They could call it the Polo Grounds.

    It still pains me that the Washington Capitals’ and Wizards’ home changed from “Center” to “Arena” when the naming rights were sold to the current holder, missing out on the obvious name homage to the old Capital Centre.

    I read somewhere that part of the reason gambling ads are so common in English men’s soccer, despite the hand-wringing about it, is that clubs below the elite like the Bournemouths of the world (sorry, Bournemouth) get more from them than other advertisers. That matters to them when they and a bunch of others like them are spending money out their asses relative to their means to try to get into or stay in the Premier League.

    So, yes, I can imagine a baseball team just going with the one that pays them the most when spending money is also (usually) an advantage.

    Is that kind of like a smaller Market team in MLB taking on a controversial sponsor simply because they’re getting offered more than other companies that are more…reputable?

    Are we forgetting the soccer club that used / uses adult website sponsors?

    Csb we make a bet on when that will happen in North America?

    How about Uni Watch pays for naming rights and teams are ad free courtey of Uni Watch?

    Problem solved!

    As others have mentioned, it’s the whole “partner” thing that bothers me the most. The teams go out of their way to call these relationships more than what they are. If you want to have a “partnership” with a company, you better be ready to be held responsible for your partners actions. That includes the bad stuff.

    Cruise, or whoever, is an advertising client. No more, no less.

    Sixers keep rolling with on the uniforms, though Penn Medicine gets their logo on the warmups. It’s like they’re waiting in the wings for the inevitable. But then what happens to the arena where the Lakers and Kings and Clippers (for now) play?

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