By Roman Temkin, New York-based Entrepreneur
In a move some players are calling “inevitable” the NBA has said it may be closer to offering ad space on its players. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has repeatedly said the move will happen at some point, but now league insiders are claiming that “some point” is actually “very soon.”
Even reigning NBA MVP Steph Curry said the move was on its way. At his All-Star Game presser, Curry was asked about advertising on uniforms and he said, “nothing is going to stop that train from coming.”
Then Curry tempered his comments: “I don’t want it to be too gimmicky where we’re walking ads for just everything. I’m trying to keep the classic look of a basketball uniform that we all know and love.”
There is indeed more than one way for teams to address this issue. They could go full NASCAR, and turn their players into eyesore billboards for multiple different sponsors, or they could take the FIFA soccer approach, with major team sponsors on the chest of the unis and not much else in the way of blatant advertising on the players.
Even the slightly muted soccer jerseys are a bit much for Curry, who admitted the transition, whenever it comes and whatever form it takes, will be “a little weird.” But weird transitions have never stood in the way of cash grabs in pro sports, and if any professional sport needs an influx of cash, it’s the NBA.
Kristen Sanne, a leading marketer noted, “Uniform changes come in all sports. Some are more welcome than others. When the NBA went from its short shorts to longer, freer shorts, both players and fans rejoiced. But when the NFL transitioned to the tighter Nike uniforms this past season, many players immediately registered complaints. And when the NFL tried the single-color outfits, fans absolutely revolted.”
The reactions will likely be just as polarized when the NBA goes to adverts on uniforms. The league would be wise to ease into it. Don’t expect fans to embrace jerseys with brand names where team logos used to be.