Skip to content

Dumpster Fire, Literally: Red Wings Ink Uni Ad Deal with Trash Company

The Red Wings have just announced that they’ve sold space on their jersey to a company that describes itself as “Michigan’s premiere waste management and dumpster company, with the finest garbage disposal and recycling services.” The advertisement will make its on-ice debut tonight, when the Wings host the Islanders.

Here’s a better view of how the ad will look on the team’s home jersey:

As you can see, the advertisement is positioned on the player’s upper-right chest, which is where the Wings usually wear their “C” and “A” designations. Those letter patches will presumably now move to the other side of the jersey.

The Wings had already whored out their helmets to a different advertiser, but until now their jerseys had been ad-free.

I don’t mean to belittle sanitation companies or their workers — they provide an essential public health service that’s largely thankless and often entails great personal risk. So on some level it’s commendable that the Wings are partnering with this kind of company.

But still: An ad for a garbage company? On one of the most storied jerseys in all of sports? Really? Let’s just say I’m glad no team I root for is doing that.

On the plus side, this is now stuck in my head, which isn’t a bad thing:

Comments (56)

    I got an email last week from the Wings asking for feedback. They send me those every so often (so do the Tigers) for whatever reason, and usually I’m happy to oblige.

    When I clicked on it, it was one question, along the lines of

    “out of these companies, do you know who the current waste management partner for the Red Wings is?” There was also an option for “I don’t know”

    I did not know the answer, but I’m assuming this company was one of the choices…

    Every time I read or hear something like that, I am so curious to know what the subjective experience is for the people behind it. Like, does the person drawing up that survey secretly agree that this is a hilarious question to be asking someone? Or does the person reading my survey really and truly furrow their brow in frustration when I give Comcast a 1 out of 10 on “makes a positive difference in my community” ?

    This is sad. I hate the NHL for allowing ads on the front of the sweater, and hate Chris Ilitch even more for allowing the front of one of the best sweaters in history to be turned into trash. Literally.

    Chris is nothing like his old man. He looks at nothing but dollars and cents. He doesn’t have 1/10 of the passion Mr. I did.

    Chris is Mommy’s boy, through and through; she only tolerates the sports teams, but she is in it strictly for the money. Ran roughshod over 80 years of tradition by replacing the D on the jersey that – except for one year, 1960 – was unchanged since 1938, to “match” that on the cap. The result is too thin and looks pathetic, but hey, someone told him he could sell a ton of new jerseys to fans.

    Sucks for the Red Wings. Reminds me of the Yankees defacing the most famous uniform in all of sports with an ad for a second-rate insurance company.

    The Yankees have a great uniform, but it is definitely not the most famous in all of sports. Unless the world excludes everywhere but North America.

    “I’ll bite” implies my comment wasn’t made in good faith. It absolutely was.

    Barcelona’s red and blue stripes, Celtic’s green and white hoops, AC Milan’s red and black stripes, Real Madrid’s all white, Liverpool’s all red, Arsenal’s red with white sleeves, Galatasaray’s red and amber halves… There are so many examples that are more famous globally than any uniform in North American sports.

    A lot of people in the United States have no idea of the level of popularity of soccer in the rest of the world. Show any fan, from Russia to China to New Zealand to Nigeria to Germany or Paraguay, an all white jersey and they will say: Real Madrid. An all red jersey: Liverpool. A sky blue jersey: Manchester City (or Lazio if they are Italian). A lot of people outside the USA know the Yankees monogram from hats but ask them how their uniform looks like and you get a blank stare. So you are totally right.

    More likely to be Brazil’s yellow shirts, blue shorts and white socks (and green Nike logo!)

    I’m not gonna call it a silver lining, because it isn’t, but at least the ad is in team colors. I saw the headline and got worried the ad would be for Waste Management and they’d be further marring the jersey with a green and yellow ad patch.

    For some reason, I thought when the ads era inevitably came, the ads would at least be for recognizable national or at least large-regional brands. But the vast majority of them are for lame-ass minor league companies. Starr Insurance on the Yankees’ uniform is a disgrace.

    Why do you think Starr is a “lame-ass minor league” company? Because they don’t advertise on tv? They don’t sell consumer insurance; they sell commercial insurance (aviation, marine, construction).

    As an Avalanche fan, the idea of a dumpster company being on the Red Wings uniforms is hilarious.

    As a uniform fan, it’s horrifying.

    The Wings’ captain patches have appeared on both sides of their jerseys, I don’t know if they’ve recently standardized placement or not (presumably it is now standardized, and will only ever be on left chest).

    Cmon Chris Illitch, this is deplorable!

    Wait… it’s not even actually a *patch*… it’s DIRECTLY SEWN INTO THE JERSEY?!?


    Yep. That means they will be on for 5 weeks or so. Time to get buy the final adidas on ice sweaters and get the seam ripper on it.

    Yeah, trash can adverts belong on Houston Astros’ jerseys and nobody else’s. Not picking on waste management, by the way; I don’t want any ads when I am paying 1000+ each year already for streaming. Isn’t it enough that we already have digital and/or physical backstop (and outfield?) ads in baseball and digital and physical ads on basketball wooden floors? Is the 7th inning stretch and tv timeouts also sponsored yet?

    The Cardinals’ 7th inning stretch is sponsored by Coca-Cola. So yes, there is nothing they can’t sell to advertisers.

    I haven’t seen sponsored TV Timeouts yet but you know they’re coming.

    When Pat Hughes describes the colors of the uniforms on Cubs radio, it is sponsored by Sherwin Williams.

    The Phillies have the Toyota Rav 4th inning. *eyes rolling into back of skull rapidly from actually typing that*

    Waiting for the arrival of the Ownership willing to say publicly that they’ll “leave money on the table” for the sake of concepts like tradition, respect, stewardship, and yes aesthetic beauty.

    By the way, related to the Red Wings, they have a serious typography catastrophe going on all over their website.

    I like the aesthetic decision! It works a little better on socials where the type animates between the two faces, but it’s an irreverent way to blend their two primary wordmarks, in my opinion.

    I hadn’t seen it animated (in part because I quit that dumpster fire of a social media hellsite once known as Twitter months ago, so until they decide to join Bluesky, I’m not following any team right now), so I took a look, and…

    … nope, it bugs me even more seeing it animated, and seeing the letters switch so arbitrarily. It’d be a different matter if it was a sweep across, going from one typeface to the other in a singular motion, but having individual letters just change randomly, jerking the text about as it re-kerns… it makes me think something’s broken.

    Yes, this has been bugging me all season. Hadn’t even looked at their website until today, but I’ve noticed it on all promos during the broadcast. Been trying to figure out the pattern of which letters are in which typeface but couldn’t land on one. It seems random and looks awful.

    Speaking of catastrophes, they say “premiere” when they mean “premier.” If you’re gonna brag, check the dictionary first.

    The ‘C’ and ‘A’ were on the right side for a reason, not enough space on left side due to position of wing tip on Adidas jersey. I can a patch sh@t show with the ad patch and C/A shoehorned together on right.

    Not sure if it’s still the case, but the original reason the captaincy patches moved from one side to the other was because they wouldn’t fit in the available space above the wingtip.

    Makes you wonder if the ‘C’ and ‘A’ will actually appear *next* to the sponsorship ad.

    I noticed in the Jagr tribute jersey, the Penguins moved the Highmark logos to the side of the arm above the numbers. Hard to find pictures, but it didn’t look too bad.

    I’m gonna stick up for the trash company on two grounds here:

    1) Paul consistently, even admirably, maintains a stance against regarding any uniform ad as less aesthetically displeasing, since the very concept of a uniform ad is maximally wrong. The converse must also be true: If a jersey ad with a thematically/regionally appropriate advertiser and matching or complimentary color scheme is not _less_ bad than any other ad, then it must also be true that a jersey ad for a trash company cannot be _more_ bad than any other ad.

    2) Waste disposal is a socially useful, nay existentially-necessary-to-civilization, business. We could have a prosperous, functional, humane society without most of the companies that advertise on sports uniforms; indeed, we’d probably be better off as a people if the entire sectors represented by most uniform ads blinked out of existence right now. Not so with waste disposal! Let a sports book or ecurrency site shut down for a couple of weeks and aside from a handful of cranky gambling addicts, nobody needs notice. Let a regularly scheduled trash collection miss a single pickup, and people might literally die.

    That said, displacing the normal position of the C and A patches is an absolute rubbish move. Shame on the trash company for asking for it, and double shame on the Red Wings for agreeing to it. Triple shame on the team if the captaincy patch relocation was a Red Wings idea in the first place.

    Is now the right time to mention what an ecological dumpster fire (pun intended) that most waste collection operations are? While I’ll conceded that they’re usually operating under some form of local governmental mandate that may economically disincentivize them from removing items from the waste stream that could be recycled or composted, the carbon footprint of the industry as a whole is enormous. So, yes, waste disposal is crucial to the functioning of an orderly civilization, but how we do it, and the practices of man of the actors we hire to do it, aren’t above the scrutiny we in the comm-uni-ty heap upon other uniform advertisers.

    I’ll bite being in the industry.
    “While I’ll conceded that they’re usually operating under some form of local governmental mandate that may economically disincentivize them from removing items from the waste stream that could be recycled or composted…”
    Correct, we are contracted to provide a service, the municipalities direct us as to what we pick up, in NJ recycling is the law, so it is mandatory to source separate, but on the municipalities themselves to police the residents for what they put in their containers. Truthfully it is not the waste collection sector that is at fault here, we are responsible for collecting the waste, if someone wants to have multiple collections we’d do it. People are just too lazy to recycle properly, and also too cheap to want their taxes to pay for multiple collections. It is hard enough to get people to do the simple stuff like bottles and cans, forget asking them to source separate food and other organic wastes.
    “…the carbon footprint of the industry as a whole is enormous.”
    Yes and no. The waste industry is one of the largest adopters of natural gas vehicles, significantly cleaner than diesel. Not to mention the waste sector is ideal for a closed loop model, collection of methane from landfills to power natural gas vehicles, essentially zero emissions. Otherwise waste collection is no different than any other transport sector. As far as disposal itself, landfills that collect methane typically turn it into renewable natural gas or generate electricity from it, creating energy from GHGs that would otherwise be vented, and offsetting other fossil fuel sources. This is another regulatory and public awareness issue where the public needs to demand landfill be mandated to control methane emissions.
     “So, yes, waste disposal is crucial to the functioning of an orderly civilization, but how we do it, and the practices of man of the actors we hire to do it, aren’t above the scrutiny we in the comm-uni-ty heap upon other uniform advertisers.”
    Again, I’ll tell you the HOW of the sector is largely contingent on the whims of society, people are wasteful consumers and just want their trash can on the curb to magically be empty, blissfully unaware of what happens to it. Unless people are willing to buy less, throw away less, actively sort their waste, and accept higher disposal fees for technologies that are more expensive than burying trash in the ground than nothing will change.
    I’ve spent about 17 years, most of my professional career, trying to get alternative technologies to replace the landfill I currently manage. I will tell you they aren’t cheap, and if the price isn’t cheaper than shipping it to the next closest hole in the ground, people will shoot it down.
    Also as far as the guys working on the trucks, it is a brutal job, and the shift in the workforce that was accelerated by COVID has hit this sector incredibly hard, we cannot increase our fees fast enough to deal with wage inflation. Why work on a trash truck when the local grocery store will pay you the same for much easier work.

    Wow, Greg! Thanks for the phenomenally thoughtful and detailed response. I’ll admit that my own post in response to Scott’s was a bit bomb-throwy (and kind of intentionally so) to argue that a waste management company’s add didn’t deserve a “free pass” on criticism any more than the crypto bros’ jersey ads did. But you’ve given me a lot to chew on. I’ll absolutely agree that this much more of a societal problem, though, than one that should be pinned on businesses that are operating in reasonably good faith in (what I still think is) a flawed space in the public sector to begin with. Thanks again for the thorough response!

    Kudos for the rubbish pun.
    You have no idea how right you are about missing a regularly scheduled pick up. I manage a county solid waste agency, some people apparently sit at their window waiting for their trash and recycling to be picked up. If it is later in the day than usual we get calls from people who are about to lose their minds.

    There’s a surprising poetic symmetry to the ad in the way that the league (and, specifically, the team ownership) is making it clear what their “Priority” is.

    When Sandow SK was the jersey maker and they were called the “Dead Things”, the captain’s C was temporarily above the wing’s tip.
    I suppose now would be a bad time to bring up I’ve changed my name to Toyota Highlander Walter Helfer.

    Agree. There’s not enough New York Dolls references in sports writing…so kudos, Paul!

    Total kismet but I was stopped at a traffic light tonight coming home from work and next to me was a… Priority Waste truck. I’d never heard of this company until today.

    The best PR advertisement would be for a company to sign up and pay to be the uniform advertiser, and then to not use it. “We’re ABC Thingamajigs. The company who has paid to keep advertising off the uniforms of your beloved New York Mets!”

    The Wings six game winning streak ended tonight, the first one wearing the ad jerseys.

    Maybe the weight added by the ad slowed them down.

    The P with a red star in it of this ad logo reminds me of those blue Phillies hats they used to wear on sundays.

    As a diehard Red Wings fan, I am absolutely disgusted. Fuck Chris Illitch for defacing one of the greatest jerseys in sports with a trash ad. Couldn’t have at least done Pure Michigan or Carhartt or something?

    Disagree. I’d prefer no ads at all, but since the leaugues already sold out, a disposal company is no different than any other, for precisely the reasons you yourself said.

    (First time commenter, btw. I came here after googling about the legendary Whalers and North Stars jerseys of the 80s, and seeing your columns on them.)


    It makes me nervous for when (Unfortunately I don’t think I can say if, James Dolan is greedy pig) the Rangers whore out their jersey. On the white jersey, the “R” in Rangers and the captain/alternate patches are already up high on the chest. The the yoke stripes are right above them. There’s no room for an ad, so what is gonna get moved?


Comments are closed.