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Jersey Patch Deals

The future of sponsorships?

The 2017-2018 basketball season kicks off a three-year trial period by the NBA to test the effectiveness and response to placing sponsor logos on team uniforms—uncharted territory for the NBA. The jersey patch is not an advertisement or even a traditional sponsorship, but a sort of naming rights agreement. The patches are the closest a brand will come to the entitlement of a major North American sports team in the foreseeable future.

Only time will tell how fans ultimately respond to uniform sponsorships in a Big Four league, but we’re already starting to ask. Through an online survey, GMR set out to better understand fans’ receptiveness to the new uniform patches, and how/whether they impact fans’ perception of the teams and sponsors.

We polled sports fans across the U.S., ages 18-54, and found the following key insights—many of which are consistent with our previous research on naming rights sponsorships:

  1. The majority of sports fans (74%) are receptive to uniform sponsorships. This mirrors what we’ve found in sponsorship more broadly. And again, it’s more apparent with 18-34 year old fans.

  2. Uniform sponsorships don’t seem to enhance the opinion of the team, but over a third of sports fans say they’ll feel more positively about the brand (37%) and would consider purchasing a service or product from the brand (34%) as a result of the uniform sponsorship.

  3. Fans see local brands as the best fit for uniform sponsorships.

  4. Only 34% of fans thought brand logos would enhance the look of the uniform.

The jersey patch program in the NBA remains a pilot for now, but it’s difficult to envision the league not extending the program fully after the 2019-2020 season. There’s too much revenue at stake.

Keep an eye out for the expansion of this program across other professional sports leagues in the U.S. as well. What has started in the NBA, if successful, will undoubtedly start piquing the interest of other leagues looking to increase their revenues and of brands looking to deepen their involvement in professional sports franchises.

We can help you stay ahead of the curve. 


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