Center-Court Branding: NBA Jersey Ads
Maybe it’s shaping up to be Philly’s year. The Sixers, arguably considered losers even in this proudly historical city, became No. 1 in marketing and in the NBA draft this week. As for the marketing feat, the NBA team will be the first among the teams to sew $15 million of sponsor branding onto its uniforms — starting with the 2017-2018 season.
“That the Sixers and StubHub have teamed up for the NBA’s first jersey patch — also a first in American professional sports — fits the profile of a pre-existing partnership,” reads Sunday’s Sixers.com announcement about the three-year deal to place a 2.5-inch by 2.5-inch patch bearing the brand logo on team jerseys sold at home games.
[Author’s note: In all of professional sports? Cough. Football. Cough. … OK, so those are practice jerseys.]
“We’re thrilled to be making history as the NBA’s first jersey sponsor,” said Scott Cutler, StubHub’s president, in the announcement. “This landmark announcement is a great example of the 76ers’ tradition of thought leadership and innovation in the sports and live events industry. This partnership allows us to both embrace our mission of enriching fans’ lives within the ‘experience economy,’ while also ushering a new era of engagement within the NBA.”
By a new era of engagement, perhaps StubHub’s president is referring to the fact that ticket-buyers both at the game and watching it on TV may buy tickets when they see the logo on players’ chests?
That could give both marketers — the Sixers and StubHub — more information on where and how fans buy tickets.
- Back in 2013, StubHub similarly observed consumer and customer behavior. Listening to and watching panels gathered by UserTesting.com, the marketer noticed that its call to action link, “See Details,” was confusing and losing 2.6 percent of ticket shoppers before they converted. (Opens as a PDF)
“Buyers were not getting to the purchase page because the link looked like the fine print, or the terms and conditions, that no one wants to read,” says the then-StubHub UX research senior manager, Christine Young.
Young, now a UX research consultant in San Francisco, says switching the wording to “Go” and the link to an orange button. The change increased conversions by 2.6 percent and brought in millions more in revenue.
- Or StubHub could do what Vegas.com did for its 2009 College Slam Dunk Contest sponsorship — promo the patch debut with a 30-second commercial that sends viewers to a unique landing page to receive a $25 discount (perhaps on a StubHub-logo-jersey?). In addition to the PURL, Vegas.com used television, social media, email and newspaper channels to get basketball fans to type in the word “SLAM” during Web checkouts. Vegas.com also used a unique 800 number, but perhaps the Sixers could have fans text a short code.
For Vegas.com, anyway, the number of orders increased by 30 percent vs. the prior four-week average.
Worth thinking about? What do you think, marketers?
In the meantime, at least one Sixers official isn’t worried that adding the StubHub logo to the jerseys will bleed into its brand awareness or reputation. 76ers CEO Scott O'Neil told NPR's Ari Shapiro as much on Tuesday.
- SHAPIRO: So why'd you decide to ruin sports?
- O'NEIL: (Laughter) It's amazing. The sun came up today. I was starting to get concerned with all those mad tweets. I will tell you this. The good news is we have an incredible commissioner — Adam Silver — who is a thought leader and progressive, very business-friendly. And we have a board made up of the 30 owners that has the same perspective. And I think I'm very fortunate and proud to say that it's very tastefully done. You've got a 2.5-inch by 2.5-inch patch right over the heart.”
— Skyler Irvine (@funSkyler) May 16, 2016
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