Watching Rooney’s overhead stunner got me thinking again about corporate sponsorship, and the strange fact that the USA of all places seems to be the sole bastion of logo-less jerseys. In the UK, often the only way you can tell Man Utd and Arsenal apart is by the gigantic advert plastered across the jerseys. Australian sports are the same, though the jerseys themselves tend to be more individual.
Compare that to the US, where even the matter of a tiny Nike swoosh can cause pages of outrage. Strangely, the land of the free and home of ultra capitalism has got it right1, and the rest of the world is wrong. From the linked article:
Let’s start with a simple premise that I think everyone here can agree with: Uniforms are special. They serve as the primary bond between fan and team. Players come and go, yet we keep rooting for (or against) that uniform, no matter who wears it.
That’s exactly right. Just look how quickly Chelsea fans swooped up Torres jumpers after his defection from Liverpool. The trouble is these shirts are totally spoilt by ginormous corporate logos. Who wants to ponce about in Aon logo kit, or decked out in Omega Pharma-Lotto cycling gear, advertising reinsurance & pharmaceutical companies?
Case in point: I pulled out my old Arsenal jersey with the Dreamcast sponsorship, and my nephews didn’t even realise it was Arsenal. Sigh. Whereas there’s no mistaking a Cubs, Bulls, Blackhawks or Bears top: the only branding is the team and years of tradition.
After cycling, Rugby League teams may be the worst offenders. Front, back, butt, sleeve, sock, and shoe logos paint the logorama picture. The only teams to escape that fate to some extent are St George (sponsored by a bank of the same name - though there’s a great ambush marketing opportunity there for some other bank), and the Mighty Bears back in the days they were so desperate that they were sponsored by their own Leagues Club. Genius.