Prime Real Estate: New Wave of Advertising is Underway in American Sports

Advertising and sports have a long and complicated history. What was at one time a simple exercise of buying commercial time during a televised event, has grown into a multi-billion-dollar spending practice for companies every year.

Brands, always looking to get their name in front of eyeballs and in ear-holes, have looked for advertising opportunities in every aspect of the game.

Stadium naming rights, sponsored timeouts and in-game pop-up ads aim to create brand awareness for companies trying to maintain a presence of mind to a wide range of consumers. It would seem that every possible advertising avenue has been exhausted. Except for one.

Team uniforms

Advertising and sports have a long and complicated history. What was at one time a simple exercise of buying commercial time during a televised event, has grown into a multi-billion-dollar spending practice for companies every year.

Brands, always looking to get their name in front of eyeballs and in ear-holes, have looked for advertising opportunities in every aspect of the game.

Stadium naming rights, sponsored timeouts and in-game pop-up ads aim to create brand awareness for companies trying to maintain a presence of mind to a wide range of consumers. It would seem that every possible advertising avenue has been exhausted. Except for one.

1. Logos are tastefully done.

The ad space sold on the jerseys is a modest 2.5 x 2.5 inch space on the upper chest the NBA logo previously occupied. In addition, teams took color into consideration, often opting for logo treatments that blended well with jersey colors.

2. Logos are thoughtfully chosen.

Most teams that selected advertisers for their uniforms did so conscientiously, instead of merely selling to the highest bidder.

A few examples:

Photo Credit: Bill Sikes/AP

General Electric, headquartered in Boston, featured its iconic logo on the Celtics uniforms.

Photo Credit: CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

Goodyear, which has its home base in Akron, OH, paid homage to its vintage “Wingfoot” logo on the Cavaliers jerseys.

Photo Credit: Utah Jazz

Qualtrics, a Provo, UT, based tech company bought the logo rights for the Utah Jazz jerseys, but used the space to promote cancer-fighting charity “Five for the Fight.”

More teams have also partnered with sensible, location oriented brands: the New Orleans Pelicans sport local food & spice company Zatarain’s logo on their jerseys. The Sacramento Kings partnered with Blue Diamond almonds, headquartered in Sacramento. The Milwaukee Bucks wear the iconic Harley Davidson badge on their chest, whose headquarters is in Milwaukee.

As it stands, nearly two-thirds of NBA teams feature sponsor logos on their uniforms. Given the quiet reception it has received, you can surmise that the rest of the teams will follow suit by next season. And with annual sales reportedly ranging from $5 to $20 million per team, it’s safe to say the other three major sports leagues are taking notes.