Will NFL ever embrace ads on game jerseys?

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If the NFL could do it all over again, the NFL would do at least two things differently from the get-go. One, the league would set itself up as a truly single enterprise and not various different businesses, for legal and labor reasons. Two, the league would put advertisement all over its uniforms and helmets, for revenue reasons.

Nearly 100 years later, tens of millions of dollars if not more are lost every year due to the failure of the league to incorporate advertisements from the launch of the league and its reluctance to start now. Surely, the league constantly wrestles with whether to devote a pledge-pin-sized portion of its uniform (or more) to companies looking to expand brand awareness in exchange for large payments of cash.

The process began several years ago, when the league allowed teams to put patches on their practice jerseys. And while the presence of ads on game uniforms currently goes no farther than the Nike swoosh on the jerseys and pants and the logos appearing on shoes, the decision of the Toronto Raptors to become the ninth NBA team to put an ad on their game jerseys surely will spark the latest flurry of emails in and around 345 Park Avenue as to whether the league should find a way to follow suit.

Though many fans would strenuously object to the proliferation of uniforms ads, what would happen if the league found a way to add advertisements in a subtle, unobtrusive way? Racing fans not only tolerate but welcome ads all over vehicles and racing suits. Soccer fans shrug at the entire front of a kit being consumed by a corporate message.

So while the NFL missed the boat back in the 1920s, it feels inevitable that ads eventually will roar onto NFL jerseys. Fans will huff and puff (as the poll we posted last year confirms), but of all the issues that could blow the NFL’s house down, ads on uniforms are low on the list. Especially as more and more other sports embrace opportunities to make even more money for nothing.

91 responses to “Will NFL ever embrace ads on game jerseys?

  1. A better question might be, “is there anything NFL owners won’t do for money?” … the answer in NO !

  2. One, the league would set itself up as a truly single enterprise and not various different businesses, for legal and labor reasons.

    ——————————————————–

    If the league had done it this way, there is a pretty good chance the NFL wouldn’t exist today and it is extremely likely if it did, it wouldn’t be nearly as successful.

  3. I propose a trade. Ten minutes less of commercials per game in exchange for a 3×5 inch patch on each teams jersey.

  4. I would only be OK with advertisements on jerseys if it cut down on TV commercial breaks. That would be a trade off I could live with.

  5. While I wanna make a “I’m never gonna buy a jersey with an ad on it”…

    I’ve already stopped buying jerseys. Mainly because the players are usually gone within a few years. I’ll buy a retro jersey every once in a while. But $200+ for a guy who’s off the team in 3 years? I could think of a lot better ways to spend or save that money

  6. The last thing I want to see on the uniforms is advertisements.

    I’m not interested in wearing an “Emirates Air Patriots” jersey or anything like that.

    If the billions they aren’t making already aren’t enough the owners can stuff their greed.

  7. They will eventually. Fans will rant and rave, including me. How many would actually stop watching? I could say I would, but I would probably be lying.

  8. “Julio, tell us about that amazing catch.” “Well, first I want to thank everyone at Pepsi and also all the support from Mars bars and…..”

  9. Of course they will, but it should offset some of the commercials, but it won’t. Once they’ve got fans to accept something there’s no going back. Squeeze and squeeze some more, regardless of product quality, THAT’S the American way.

  10. Soccer fans shrug at the entire front of a kit being consumed by a corporate message.
    ———————–
    Firstly, having spent half my career over in London watching the Prem, and watched plenty of MLS too, I can assure you that the sponsor logos don’t cover the “entire” front but more like a quarter of it, and fans don’t shrug – but they put up with it because the game doesn’t stop every few minutes for ad-breaks.

  11. Can someone explain why hindsight is all about failure through missed money growing decisions. This country is one big witches brew of crutches….and trying to profit off of those crutches. Manage your own impulses and grow your wealth off of the inability to do so by the masses.

  12. I’d tolerate the ads.
    I can’t tolerate the nerd at the other end deleting all of the “good” comments on this site.

  13. The NFL is so greedy they’d sell their own mothers if they could make money doing so.

  14. Yeah, Mark Martin’s Viagra-sponsored team car was kind of funny. But, using the NASCAR pic to illustrate over-the-top sports ads undercuts your single-entity statement. The NASCAR teams are all independent businesses.

  15. [Set Rant On]

    1) Advertisers have the mistaken impression that they are entitled to stuff their promotions into our faces whenever, wherever they wish. Despite several court ruling supporting this, the tide has begun to change. They need to stop. Enough is enough. If you can’t advertise your useless product (most of them are useless and expensive) then too f’n bad.

    2) I really liked the 3rd World Billboard crack above. That was classic. Some of those Euro hockey jerseys are scary. Same for the “football” crowd.

    3) Tickets are already priced to the top of the market so revenue is not growing from that direction. Ad revenue from broadcast is waffling because people have been saturated with sports broadcasts and are tired of it. I would hope that these “learned” executives would realize that the law of diminishing returns is always at play and would therefore plan better, but greed is greed and we won’t be able to avoid that as long as there’s a dollar that isn’t in some owner’s pocket.

    4) Who’s going to buy these ads? Are the players going to look like NASCAR vehicles? Will Go-Daddy.com make their players wear green?

    5 ) Stop it now.

    [Set Rant Off]

  16. On the surface it sounds like a good idea to generate more revenue but it will impact jersey sales greatly. Nobody wants to buy a jersey with a bunch of advertisements on it.

  17. That is a grotesque idea, with all due respect. The world is steeped in materialism, we need that to go, not to have more of it.

    Give the NFL credit for revenue sharing between teams – that is why the league has thrived, allowing for true competitive balance.

    I think the league will not approve uniform ads unless they find that the sport is slipping in popularity and they want to get money wherever they can while they still can. You know the league will know it is heading fast downhill if they approve such a thing.

  18. bmorepositive123 says:
    Jul 6, 2017 2:04 PM

    While I wanna make a “I’m never gonna buy a jersey with an ad on it”…

    I’ve already stopped buying jerseys. Mainly because the players are usually gone within a few years.
    ————————

    I’d figure it was because you are an adult.

  19. Trust me, they’re analyzing it as we speak. If they determine the added revenue can more than offset the loss in jersey sales they will 100% do it.

  20. bmorepositive123 says:
    Jul 6, 2017 2:04 PM

    While I wanna make a “I’m never gonna buy a jersey with an ad on it”…

    I’ve already stopped buying jerseys. Mainly because the players are usually gone within a few years.
    ————————

    I’d figure it was because you are an adult.

    ——————————————–

    Hahaha. I think this is why throwbacks became so popular. I still want to wear a jersey, but I’m not going to going to wear one with a kid’s name on the back who is 10 years my junior.

  21. I heard Chico’s Bail Bonds went out of business years ago. So who would the Packers be able to get as a sponsor?

  22. A PLEDGE PIN!?!?! ON YOUR UNIFORM!?!?!?
    Niedermeyer and I are not fans of this idea.

    (Why has it taken 33 comments for this response to show up? Bunch of philistines around here…)

  23. In a league which features Seahawks, Cardinals, Falcons, Eagles, etc. I’m trying to imagine the blue Twitter bird logo on the unis.

    I think the jersey ads are coming, but I suspect they will start with logos like the Toyota or Mercedes logos, the white Apple logo, the 4-color Microsoft logo, Nike swoosh and so on. Text might have to wait until the next generation of uniform designs come out.

    Next will be on-field logos. Can either paint them on the turf, or project them the way network TV does with the yellow first-down line.

  24. Please don’t give the owners any more ideas like this.

    I figured we’d be exposed to things like “This kick-off is presented by Budweiser”, or “This scoring replay is brought to you by Cialis”, or “This extra point attempt is sponsored by the new Apple iPhone XXL” before we see the players use their uniforms as billboards. Honestly, I’d rather put up every play having a sponsor than with having team uniforms littered with ads.

  25. If it happens it will be the perfect time to stop following the league. The NFL is already pushing the limits with long time traditional fans. Honestly, I should probably be doing other things on Sundays anyway. I could live with just the NHL. More action, more opportunities to watch games, won’t have to schedule things around Sundays, etc.

  26. As pointed out several times indirectly, the reason these other sports have in-game ads is because they don’t stop the game for the sake of commercials.

    At least reduce the ad breaks to quarter breaks, 2 min warning, and after scoring plays (certain breaks are necessary for player health and resetting). Get rid of TV timeouts, timeout ad breaks (just stay with the broadcast), and ad breaks after kickoffs/punts/turnovers.

    Do that and we will embrace in-game ads like you wouldn’t believe.

  27. Advertising in sports is disgusting enough – leave the jerseys alone, sacrifice some money, you make plenty.

    Soccer jerseys look horrendous and I don’t care if it’s just a little patch. Corporation need to allow things to be kept sacred and sacrifice a few million dollars

  28. They
    Better
    Not.

    There are way too many advertisements hawking ridiculous products or unnecessary services. Personally, I avoid ALL products with overt in-your-face incessant advertising. Nobody likes walking a car lot and having every salesman trying to make small talk so you choose them when you decide to make a purchase. To me, this stuff is not much different. I am all for companies making a fair profit but these days most companies have taken that too far. The NFL is absurdly priced as it is and many times the new revenue streams are justified with lies like it will help costs come down. They never do…ever. Companies trade quality for profit. Most do it by using inferior ingredients in food or subpar components in manufacturing, etc. Why do we put up with it? Because, collectively, we are dumb as a brick.

  29. painsyndicate says:
    Jul 6, 2017 3:09 PM
    I heard Chico’s Bail Bonds went out of business years ago. So who would the Packers be able to get as a sponsor?
    ///////////////////////////////

    None. They’ll be the only team in the league without that crutch.

  30. In a couple of years, some league office nit wit will go in front of the cameras and tell us they will be covering team uniforms with ads, “because our fans demanded it”..

    Right,
    Just like we demanded the draft be moved to a Thursday, Friday night
    or
    We demanded crappy football on Thursday nights with hideous looking uniforms..

    The NFL is going to do what the NFL wants to do because, well frankly they can. And there’s not a damn thing we can do about it

  31. If they start doing this before cutting the amount of commercials in a game broadcast, it will be a huge slap in the face to fans.

    In other words, expect it. Because they seem to love nothing more than slapping fans in the faces.

    Looking at a logo on a uniform or screen related to pro sports doesn’t bother me. The mental and good-taste intrusion of commercial video ads, now that bothers me.

  32. If there’s another nickel to be made, the owners are in, as long as they don’t have to share it with the players!

  33. When I think of the NFL, first thing that comes to mind is “they need more money.”

  34. However, can you see a company execs cringw with their logo being worn by let’s say…a player suspended for PEDs or accused of DUI, domestic abuse, etc? It’s one thing to run ads during games, it’s a completely different circumstance if the individual player has some controversial activity associated with him.

  35. It will happen, a bit at a time. A logo on the sleeve; one on the other sleeve. Another small one on the back, etc. Then we’ll see more digitally superimposed logos on the field and around the field, ala soccer games.
    But don’t blame just the owners; the players will demand a substantial cut of any extra money coming in, too,
    And if the commercials get cut and playing time continues without as many interruptions that will give the players less rest time during the game and open another whole can of worms. Teams will want more players if they can’t rest as often. Larger players will be at a disadvantage, so the game might shift toward smaller linemen, etc. who are better able to play longer without a break. Who knows what unexpected consequences might occur?

  36. streetyson
    Jul 6, 2017, 11:15 AM PDT
    Soccer fans shrug at the entire front of a kit being consumed by a corporate message.
    ———————–
    Firstly, having spent half my career over in London watching the Prem, and watched plenty of MLS too, I can assure you that the sponsor logos don’t cover the “entire” front but more like a quarter of it, and fans don’t shrug – but they put up with it because the game doesn’t stop every few minutes for ad-breaks.

    _________________

    We put up with them because there’s typically a direct correlation between the company logo on the kit and the quality of the squad. Though I wouldn’t even say “put up with” for the most part. The ads on most footie kits are actually done in quite good taste due to its simplicity because the amount of money they dole out mandates them being the sole corporate sponsor. If the NFL did it I’m certain it’d end up being something akin to the South American kits that look more like NASCAR livery than sporting uniforms.

  37. For a nation that embraces free enterprise, it is interesting to see so many football fans strongly opposed to a little commercialization. I’m surprised that the owners haven’t pushed for this decades ago.

  38. The Amazon A-to-Z arrow “swoosh” right under the Nike “swoosh” on the sleeves…

    USAA Insurance logo on the helmets…

    Goodyear’s Hermes/Mercury “Wingfoot” winged-shoe emblem on all footwear…

    If a player has an M in their last name, the McDonald’s “golden arches M” in its place…

    A column of Walmart “starbursts” in place of pants stripes…

    Can’t wait…

  39. “Surely, the league constantly wrestles with whether to devote a pledge-pin-sized portion of its uniform …”

    No, the league doesn’t wrestle with it. They signed a contract with Nike to have exclusive apparel rights over uniforms.

    This is Nike’s ad space. They are not inclined to share this ad space. At least not until the contract ends, which will allow for negotiations for renewal.

  40. Every day I get closer and closer to ending my love for this sport… I’m 58, been a huge fan of my team since they started (over 50 years)… All things come to an end.

  41. I would guess that this would be negotiated on a team-by-team basis, not league-wide. The interesting thing would be the lengths of the deals, amd the disparity of the dollars involved between teams like the Patriots/Cowboys/Steelers and teams like the Bills/Jaguars/Browns.

    It would certainly add motive for owners to improve their on-field product, to chase those new dollars. There are too many owners that are content to field a loser and cash the TV checks as-is.

  42. Hell no. NASCAR is so out of control that you can no longer identify drivers by their car because the paint scheme and main advertiser changes every week.

  43. I would be ok with it, if the cut down commercial time. the number of commercial breaks is ok but less commercials during would be a nice change

  44. You better believe it’ll happen, especially under Goodell’s watch. I can’t recall a single commissioner that has ruined the game of pro football like Roger Goodell has.

  45. When you accept such endorsements, you lose a little bit of the nostalgic imagery similar to that of the stadium names being sold off to companies ala Veterans Stadium/Lincoln Financial Field, Mile High Stadium/Sports Authority Field, Foxboro/Gillette, Giants Stadium/MetLife, Ralph Wilson/New Era Field etc..

    It ruins a good brand. I hope they accept the Adidas/Reebok/Nike logos as the only advertisement on a jersey. It ruins a classic look and poisons it, as far as I’m concerned.

  46. Yes, just what Goodell needs. An extra $2M or so a year in compensation for being the most incompetent executive in the US.

  47. aj66shanghai says:
    Jul 6, 2017 6:07 PM
    I would guess that this would be negotiated on a team-by-team basis, not league-wide. The interesting thing would be the lengths of the deals, amd the disparity of the dollars involved between teams like the Patriots/Cowboys/Steelers and teams like the Bills/Jaguars/Browns
    ————————————————
    I think a size and location and most importantly an amount limit. 1 only. Some team would go all F1 on it if they didn’t lol.

    You are right though the difference in the deals would be a difference…When certain teams play more times on primetime it makes sense.

  48. 75rockrasin says:
    Jul 6, 2017 3:59 PM
    In a couple of years, some league office nit wit will go in front of the cameras and tell us they will be covering team uniforms with ads, “because our fans demanded it”..

    Right,
    Just like we demanded the draft be moved to a Thursday, Friday night
    or
    We demanded crappy football on Thursday nights with hideous looking uniforms..

    The NFL is going to do what the NFL wants to do because, well frankly they can. And there’s not a damn thing we can do about it

    ———————–
    Well to be fair the fans did demand the NFL frame the Patriots. A lot of them still applaud to this day.

  49. vavikingfan says:
    Jul 7, 2017 8:10 AM
    If they do this the owners will use rhis as an opportunity to lower ticket prices. 🙂

    —————

    Or not

  50. As expected, the idea of owners making money is hated, and the idea of players making money is loved.

    Owners putting ads on the jerseys puts more money in their pockets, and more in the players.

    It has ZERO effect on how much you will enjoy a game. There’s no reason not to do it.

  51. Well, this would make sense considering the NFL is looking more and more like the English Premier League (the players wear “kits” and it is clear which companies are sponsoring these “kits”–I almost feel sorry for these players!)…down to the fact that the while the Premier League has its Man United, the NFL has its Patriots..you know, perennial Supe Contenders…Now all the NFL has to do is set up a Promotion-Relegation system…

  52. For those of you against this, let me ask this:

    If you owned a company and were presented with a new revenue stream, would you say no to it because you already were making too much money?

    Also, Goddell has publicly stated his goal is to get the NFL to $25B in revenue in 10 years – they’re at $12-14B now, how do you expect them to increase revenue if not by doing things like this? Unless, of course you’re ok with the NFL just letting teams relocate every 3 years where they have to pay $500m fees to the league…

  53. grumpysal says:
    Jul 7, 2017 12:50 PM
    For those of you against this, let me ask this:

    If you owned a company and were presented with a new revenue stream, would you say no to it because you already were making too much money?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    If it meant lowering the quality of the product or alienating current customers (while bringing in zero new ones) then, I would absolutely say no…especially if said company makes billions in profit already.

  54. Ugh… alright, but only if it cuts down on the awful commercial break spam we have to put up with…

    Get the games going and over quickly… quit dragging it out.

  55. Look at MLB their fences are covered with ads now. That use to be the difference from minor leagues and the big leagues. No ads on the fences, white baseballs. Not anymore, NFL greed will join the money grab too.
    Ads are on the practice jerseys now to introduce it so it is less shocking for the fans. I don’t like it.

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