Earlier this week, it was announced that Adidas would be taking over as jersey supplier for the NHL, starting with the 2017-18 season. Along with the news, an article published by TSN noted that with a possible overhaul looming, it would be an opportune time for the league to introduce ads, along with the possibility of adding the distinctive three stripes of Adidas.
This freaked a lot of people out.
They threatened to boycott, basically everything. They took to the comments section in droves saying that they’d shun the league, the manufacturer and the advertisers. I, on the other hand, am wondering just what took so long?
For those that don’t know, I am the proud owner of an Advertising diploma from Durham College - class of 2003. So, that world will always hold a special place in my heart. One of the things that drew me to the program in the first place was corporate sponsorship and partnerships with sports. In my time here at The Standard, I have frequently lobbied local government to consider more corporate partnerships with their facilities. Take the arena for instance, with two ice pads and a hall at the facilities in Uxbridge and Scugog, that represents three additional revenue streams for the municipality. Some have told me that they don’t like that idea. The argument being that ‘it was the town of Uxbridge that built this hall, not Lafarge.’ That would be well and good if the name Uxbridge brought some money with it. But, it doesn’t, so slap Miller Paving on the sign and cash the cheque, your property tax bill will thank you.
Now I realize that example isn’t quite the same as what would happen with ads on NHL jerseys.
Presumably, they would only serve to make billionaire owners slightly more millions of dollars. And in all likelihood, they will be understated patches on the chest or shoulders, and not the gaudy displays your eyes are bombarded by at the Spengler Cup every year.
The other side of the argument is that ads on sports jerseys is by no means a new concept. On virtually every other continent, it’s a given. In North America, MLS and the CFL have both featured jersey ads for years, without the sky falling I should add.
With soccer - or football, if you will - it’s a given that the jersey will have a corporate sponsor. Often, it can become intertwined with the team.
For example, I was very torn earlier this year when Chelsea announced that after a decade, they would be switching sponsorship on their kit from Samsung to Yokohoma. On the one hand, I really liked the prospect of added revenue this will bring the team, which would be on par with other top clubs in Europe. But, supporters now need new jerseys, since all of a sudden our Samsung branded merchandise are throwbacks.
Just two weeks into the Premier League season, and with only one point to show for our efforts after the loss at Manchester City over the weekend, I’d be lying if I said that the completely unreasonable thought didn’t creep into my mind to blame the sponsor switch for these troubles.
At the end of the day, everything will return to a certain sense of normalcy, and the Yokohama jerseys will be as familiar as the Samsung ones were.
The same thing will likely happen with NHL ads, if they ever happen. We’ll likely wonder why we don’t borrow more ideas from Europe, starting with the five weeks vacation I’ve heard so much about.