Saturday, 17 April 2021

Logos Mean Nothing

There's a significant difference in terms of the money spent by NHL teams compared to the teams in European leagues across that continent. European leagues don't have $85 million salary caps, for starters, so there's less need for the European leagues to drive sponsorship nationally and hold out for major television contracts. Locally, the fans and businesses are far more involved with the European teams than what we see at the NHL level, and that's where a lot of the sponsorship ads on their jerseys originate - local businesses who support the team. Will we ever see NHL teams revert to this type of sponsorship? It's doubtful, but, from a report today, don't be surprised if the NHL looks more NBA in 2022-23 than the European teams as we know it.

Mark J. Burns of Sports Business Journal reported today that "NHL jersey advertising could become a reality as early as the 2022-23 season" according to his sources. Nothing has been put in writing nor has the NHL Board of Governors voted on anything like this yet, but it became all too apparent that the league was headed in this direction after making a bundle of money off helmet ads in the past season.

According to Burns' sources, "NHL clubs have been conducting valuation work -- some with third-party sports sponsorship and marketing agencies as well as valuation firms - to determine what a jersey patch and helmet decal could both be worth before eventually providing that data to the league". If the NHL is exploring the option, you know that this is probably closer to reality than we realize, so I wouldn't pour water on this report whatsoever based on the NHL's track record.

It's very likely that the NHL will follow the NBA's lead with one sponsor's logo on each jersey in the NHL that could tie into the helmet logo sponsorship. As to where that logo goes, it would make sense that it ends up somewhere conspicuous for television cameras because all sponsors want their brand out being shown to NHL fans. If that's the case, expect to see these sponsor logos in 2022-23 because the money the NHL is making off helmets ads can be grown exponentially with jersey ads.

Personally, I think this is a giant mistake. The NHL already has the adidas logo featured prominently on the back of the collar on NHL jerseys after comapnies like Nike moved their logo from the bottom-right on the hem on the back of the jersey in the late-1990s and early-2000s. Adding another company's logo to the uniform only adds to the clutter we see on some of these uniforms already as well as pulling one's eyes off the logo in the middle of the chest. Does the logo mean nothing any longer? Does the tradition of what these uniforms and logos mean have no bearing on any of the men who now them?

To me, NHL uniforms are sacred ground - one doesn't tread there when it comes to selling that real estate to anyone. Patches for special events are entirely fine, but anyone buying space on the jersey needs to look elsewhere to spend one's money. As much as I don't like the manufacturer's logo on the back of the jersey, it's not as noticeable as a sold chunk of the jersey that will be present in images, television broadcasts, and more every time you see a player.

At what point do NHL owners stop selling off their brand to make money? The jersey, the logo, and the colours of the team are the brand of the team, and that shouldn't be sold. If an NHL owner sells a helmet and jersey sponsorship for $10 million, what does that achieve other than lining his own pockets with some extra cash? Honestly, if we've exhausted all the revenue opportunities known to man that we have to revert to selling off chunks of the jerseys for millions of dollars, the NHL has jumped the shark. It's no longer a sport - it's an advertising medium.

The only advertising that should be done on an NHL jersey is that team's logo. There is no reason for the NHL to be investigating this potential revenue source whatsoever. And spare me the whining about the money lost during this pandemic year and how expensive it is to do all the testing and ensure protocols and all that. It's a bunch of crap because we've seen how poorly the NHL has done this year in keeping players safe. Every division has been affected with some teams having been affected more than one, so the losses in revenue because the NHL pushed forward to play a season is on the owners who decided that professional hockey during a pandemic was a good idea.

Count me out of the jersey ad idea. The helmet ads were a bad idea from the moment they were suggested to the inception to execution because you know this was the slippery slope that the NHL was sliding down. And while I'm not surprised that money-hungry billionaires are on the hunt for more money, I'm just shocked that these billionaires have no regard for their own brands and no respect for the tradition of what these hockey jerseys mean.

Nothing is sacred in NHL any longer.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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