Midway through May, the Philadelphia 76ers broke the ice by becoming the first kid to get up and groove at the jersey advertisements school dance, paving the way for the rest of the league to nervously shuffle in their wake. Starting in the 2017-18 season, the Sixers will proudly display a Stubhub patch on the right shoulder of their uniforms, a deal that will run through 2019-20 at $5 million per year.
While the news has been largely overshadowed by the smash hit that has been the NBA Playoffs and speculation over whether a man named Dragan is going to be an elite prospect for NBA success, the deal has wide-ranging implications.
Whether to place ads on uniforms has long been a taboo subject across the four major American sports leagues. Even though games, especially in the NFL, seem to go in and out of television ad spots fast enough to make your head spin, the idea of sponsors on the team's apparel has always been controversial for some reason.
Many fans not wanting to see corporate logos strewn all over their favorite team's colors makes sense, especially to the point where the jersey seems to represent sponsors more than the actual athletic organization. But with sports and marketing so closely interconnected, the change seemed inevitable at some point. Now that the Sixers have taken that first step, the floodgates will open.
It's no surprise that the NBA has spearheaded the shift either. More than any of its closest competitors, specifically since Adam Silver took over as commissioner, the league has looked for new and innovative ways to advance the NBA's image. Philadelphia is taking advantage of a league-approved, three-year pilot program in which the NBA's official partners will be protected, but teams will be allowed to formulate jersey-advertising relationships with other companies like Stubhub, provided that the company isn't political or associated with gambling or alcohol.
Philadelphia's deal makes them the first team in the four major athletic leagues in the United States to sport uniform ads, even though every stadium and game telecast shoves enough corporations in your face to have you feeling like you're at the mall.
The MLS and the WNBA have had jersey sponsors for about 10 years now, so the idea isn't out in left field by any means. In fact, owners are probably jumping to pull in some dough that even approaches the roughly $900 million or more that high-level European soccer teams are expected to pull in on jersey advertising alone this season.
Only time will tell how quickly change comes across all American sports, but nothing will stop it now that Philly has burst through the wall. The Celtics have not announced possible uniform partnerships, but any potential advertisement patches could hardly look worse than the putrid "parquet pride" alternates that the team has had to parade out in select games over the past two seasons.
Until the Cs give official disclosure on what, if any, plans they have to hop in on the sponsorship money for 2017-18, then we can only imagine what companies would make a good fit on the Celtics' green and white.
I'll start it off, and if you have any ideas and/or photoshops of your own don't hesitate. Let's see them in the comments section.
America runs on Dunkin, and the Cs never stop running. There's no doubt that every player on the Celtics makes frequent trips to DD during the season, or at least one, or sees them because they are on every single corner of just about every main road in Massachusetts. The company is a New England fixture with $10 billion in revenue, it is based in Canton, and they renewed their deal as a Celtics sponsor back in 2010. Not many companies are more all-New England than Dunkies, and it would be a seamless fit around the logo.
Their roots aren't in New England, but what better way to start to plant new ones than to get a patch on the Cs jersey in 2018, right when it arrives at Fort Point into its new Boston headquarters. Boston pushed hard to get the company here from Connecticut, a superpower in American industry that generated $117 billion last year as opposed to the NBA which hauled in a measly $5.2 billion as a whole. They may not need the exposure of the NBA, but they could buy in as all-New England upon their arrival with the sponsorship.
Herb has money and if he wants his name next to the word "Celtics" he'll have to dish it out. The king of the Herb Chambers car dealership chain, which now has about thirty locations, has built himself up to be one of the ten richest Bostonians with a net worth of over $1 billion. If he gives enough money to cut TV commercials, then print his name in big letters on every jersey.
The Green Choices
There may not be a more sensible option. The TD logo currently overlooks the Zakim Bridge on the side of the Garden as it has since 2005, when it also became the official bank of the Cs. Now along with being displayed throughout Celts home games, the green square can travel on the road with the team on their uniforms.
Former Celtic Vin Baker is now a worker at a Starbucks, so to pay homage to him and his 89-game career in Boston the Starbucks logo would be excellent. It'd also be fitting to see such overpriced coffees being advertised in a stadium full of overpriced drinks. Doesn't hurt that the logo is green either.
21st Century Essentials
Since its launch in 2006 Twitter has grown into a $2 billion social media powerhouse with over 300-million users that is the center of real-time conversation, reporting, and memes. Nothing beats basketball Twitter, so there's no better place for the Twitter logo than basketball jerseys. The whole cycle would come full circle. When basketball Twitter sees the blue bird across an NBA jerseys, the @s will start flying and the arguments will be spinning off.
Music streaming is what's in right now, and Spotify was one of the first to embrace the idea, before Apple and Jay-Z's Tidal jumped aboard to compete. Spotify's green theme also gives them the benefit of the doubt. Founded in 2006, like Twitter, before officially launching in 2008, more than 75 million Spotify accounts now exist, streaming music from "Welcome to the Jungle" to "You Should Be Dancing."
Boston's Mark, Donnie, and Paul Wahlberg have been hard at work trying to expand their hamburger restaurant across the country since its start in Hingham in 2011. It's come a long way, with locations now around Boston, Orlando, Toronto, New York City, and Las Vegas as well as a reality show on A&E. To bring it to the next level they could buy ad space on their favorite basketball team's jersey. Perhaps the Celtics could even give them a discount because Mark was recruiting Kevin Durant to Boston before it was even cool.
Boston's beer has the namesake of one of the city's most historic figures. Sam Adams, the man, helped spark the American Revolution by spreading anti-British sentiment and starting the Sons of Liberty. The beer, introduced over 200 years later in 1984 by the $900 million Boston Beer Company, scores an 86 or "very good" on BeerAdvocate. The match would be perfect, but the NBA isn't allowing alcoholic companies into the jersey sponsorship program. Scratch it, for now at least.
They probably don't have the marketing budget to afford this, but Regina on the national stage would be a sight to behold. The best pizza Boston has to offer is just a short walk from the TD Garden, and seeing the logo sprawled across the Celtics' jersey would only make every trip more satisfying. Some people are going to fire back with Santarpio's, but those people aren't thinking right. There's only one pizzeria worthy of its letters being associated with the green team, if you haven't tried it in your life, I'm sorry for you.
We can dream right? It would look great on the home jerseys. What will it cost? A couple million? Time to set up a Go Fund Me page, or have Jeff Clark open up that wallet.