Did you see it during the All-Star Game? The jerseys worn by every player had a small KIA patch on the left shoulder area, an ad about the size of a golf ball. Jersey manufacturer Adidas had a logo on the other shoulder.
Expect that to become the norm sooner rather than later.
The NBA has been inching toward this for years — this is the second year in a row with an ad on the All-Star jerseys — and when the owners met in Toronto to talk business the majority supported the idea, reports Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The Lakers have a 20-year, $4 billion local television deal — they can afford to take a moral high ground. Other owners who don’t have that kind of cash flow will see things differently. (That Laker broadcast deal does have ratings ties and may end up being worth a little less than estimated — Laker ratings are down 16 percent this season despite the Kobe Bryant farewell tour.)
While the purists will scream, those little golf-ball size ads are not intrusive or going to destroy the integrity of the game — the NBA isn’t going NASCAR here, nor is this suddenly a European soccer jersey ad placement. It’s a tiny patch. If Kia and McDonalds and other league sponsors want to pay for those ads — revenue that will be split among the teams (exactly how still to be determined) and with the players — it’s not that big a deal.
I’d wager the majority of fans watching either didn’t even notice the KIA ads on the All-Star jerseys, or did and looked right past it the way they do Cheez-Its being in the Big Brother house in that show. Or that key characters driving Hyundais in The Walking Dead. O Playstation getting placement in House of Cards. It’s unobtrusive, and not a slippery slope.
And whether you and Jeanie Buss like it or not, it’s coming. Sooner rather than later.