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Advertising Coming to World Cup of Hockey Jerseys, is the NHL Next?

Every hockey fans nightmare: advertising on NHL jerseys. The NHL has stated in the past couple of months that ads will be put on team uniforms for the World Cup of Hockey next year. With the ties the league has to the WCH, this may be the start of the process that sees sponsorships placed on NHL jerseys. Putting advertisements on these hockey uniforms would quite literally be a slap in the face to fans, and the amount of uproar it would cause would be huge because of the fact that hockey lovers simply don't want it on their NHL team.

The hockey jersey is considered sacred to a fan, and under no circumstance should someone mess with what a hockey lover takes pride in. People rock the colours of their favourite team with honour and show their love for the organization that brings them entertainment. Any unnecessary colour or design changes to a jersey can be met with either love or hate, such as re-tooling the look (like Arizona did this year) or fully changing a look (like Anaheim did). Simple jersey changes are completely different than the idea of placing ads on jerseys, as one is done for a better look while the other has nothing to do with aesthetics and everything to do with money. 

Commissioner Gary Bettman has entertained the idea of using jerseys as advertising space for companies seeking to gain more attention from the public. From a business standpoint, it would be a good idea because people watching the game always look at the players; which the ads would be on. On the other hand, the league would be angering the fans which makes up most of the income of the NHL. Unhappy fans is bad for business, and that con alone should outweigh the positives of the potential revenue.

Imagine what an Original Six team with advertisements on their jerseys would look like. Air Canada on a Leafs jersey? Bell on a Montreal Canadiens jersey? Teams with huge history would be seeing their long loved jerseys utterly ruined with the addition of company logos. Here's an example from Chris Creamer on sportslogos.net:

Every jersey in the league would be ruined for that matter, and again here's an example from sportslogos.net:

The colour clashing is evident and the vast majority of fans wouldn't be impressed. Maybe a solution could be that teams can just use company logos that match their colours, like the picture below? 

Hell no. On this old Manitoba Moose jersey, the colours of the Toyota logo do match, but the jersey looks crowded and busier with the addition of it. This would be the case on any NHL uniform, as NHL teams design their uniforms to perfection by usually using accents and stripes; thus limiting the amount of open room. The limitation of open room would make the ads placed in areas that just make the jersey look busy and unappealing, like this example from SB Nation:

The sponsorships make the area around the logo crowded, and the ads below essentially ruin the waist stripes. The colours of some of the ads don't match the colour scheme of the jersey, which is one of the biggest fears of fans. 

One argument to have sponsorships on uniforms is that many different sports leagues around the world (such as soccer or European hockey) have it, so why not the NHL? First off, soccer jerseys have the open room on the chest of their jerseys for the sponsorships. NHL teams put their logos right in the middle of their jerseys; something of which soccer teams don't do. The limited room left on a hockey jersey makes it unideal for anything extra to be added, as I stated before.

In European hockey leagues, teams always use advertisements on their players and fans seem fine with it. But with all due respect to these European leagues, they NEED the extra revenue. The NHL is a billion dollar business that has excellent financials and profits, and so these changes shouldn't be needed. The fact is these European leagues don't have the biggest fan bases and need to find ways of generating extra revenue, and ads on jerseys help with that:

Lets take a look at the 4 major sports leagues in North America now: NBA, MLB, NFL, and NHL. The NHL is the smallest of the four in terms of yearly revenue, but if the other three top leagues don't use uniform advertising, why should the NHL? These three should be what the National Hockey League strives to be, and even though hockey isn't the most popular sport in the States, there are other ways of gaining more interest and greater revenue. If the bigger leagues don't see the need to put sponsorships on their players uniforms, then our beloved hockey league should take note. The NHL is trying to grow through bigger profits, but the majority of hockey fans believe that advertisements on uniforms are not a necessity for this to happen. The league is growing already with more exposure in the United States, especially with the NBC television deal. Exposure is naturally happening, and with that comes more revenue, thus limiting the need for uniform advertising. 

The decision to place sponsorships on teams in the World Cup of Hockey may just be the beginning of corporate advertising on professional hockey uniforms here in North America , and with a foothold already in place, the idea may continue to grow. Fans are already bombarded with sponsorships on the ice, boards, and even on the glass during some broadcasts. Uniforms without these sponsors is a nice break from all the consumerism surrounding the league and ads on jerseys shouldn't even be a thought in the NHL's office. Gary Bettman and co. should recognize that in this situation the negative fan opinion outweighs the potential revenue because it is the fans that drives business, and they don't want this

Questions for the reader:

Because of ads on jerseys at the WCH, will the NHL continue and expand this idea? If ads do appear on NHL jerseys, can fans stomach it? Is having ads on a Team Canada or Team USA jersey acceptable in the WCH? Feel free to comment your opinions. 

Check out other articles on the subject: Yahoo and CTV

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Thanks for reading.






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