The American Jersey Dream
Pic Credits: Renee McKay/Getty Images
When you look at any IPL team’s jersey, the most omnipresent things you can notice are the advertisement patches on the jersey. Every inch of the jersey and cricket gear of the teams is sold for companies to advertise their products. Now, this kind of advertisement is quite common across the world, all the major sports leagues generate millions of dollars of revenue from this strategy. But, every scenario has an exception or an outlier and this kind of scenario too has one outlier and that is the American sports leagues!
Now, The US of A is the perfect synonym of Capitalism. They can sell anything, anywhere and anytime they want. But, they have not tried to sell things on the league sports uniforms. To give you a picture of why this is a rarity and why we are making a big deal out of this is because even the stadiums in the USA are named after corporate giants like the Gillette Stadium or the Citi field etc. When you spend millions on dollars to put your names on the sporting field why not spend the same amount on the jersey branding? Well, as strange it might sound the main reason behind no branding of the sports uniforms is more cultural rather than commercial.
Don’t think the branding is not present in American leagues if you watch a NASCAR race all you can see is ads all over the car and the driver looks like a walking brand ambassador! So, why NASCAR and why not the other leagues? As we said it is more cultural, NASCAR, Golf etc are single-person sports, they represent themselves. But, it is not the same with the major leagues they represent a city and the bond between the city and fans is something which any brand aspires to achieve! It's not that these leagues don’t allow brands to advertise, they do it on the practice jersey’s of the team but not on the match jersey.
If you observe any jersey’s of the American Leagues the one thing common between them is the presence of the respective city name right in the middle of the front portion of the jersey. And, many American’s take pride in the way these jerseys are designed portraying their loyalties to their city. Americans feel that sports teams as a civic property rather than a corporate entity. Not only this there has been conflicting interests between the players endorsed brands and team endorsed brands, I mean consider this scenario if a player endorses Nike, and suddenly Adidas pitches in to sponsor the team gear! Definitely this will not end well!
It's not like there have been no attempts to commercialize this space, in fact NBA has approved for brand logos on its jerseys. And all other leagues too had meetings about having sponsors on jerseys, in future advertisements might be a reality on these jerseys but, it is always the question of what will happen to that loyal fan who was only engrossed in the game? It’s like naming Wankhede Stadium after a Brand X! Hard to think right? But, that day might not be far away!
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