Trey Newcomb, Account Associate
The National Basketball Association (NBA) recently unveiled a prototype for a smart jersey that they claim will be the “jersey of the future”. The prototype was first released to the public in February by NBA commissioner Adam Silver. The player name and number on the prototype can be changed with the click of a button from a tablet or other smart device. For example, if the back of the jersey displayed the name “James” and the number “23,” within seconds the jersey can be manipulated from a smart tablet to display the name “Harden” and the number “13.” While many NBA fans (including myself) were completely awed by this, it only took a little while for me to think about the endless possibilities that this presents to advertising and marketing companies. Prior to the 2017-18 season, the NBA began allowing jersey-patch sponsors and today nearly every team in the NBA has a jersey patch with a sponsor. The NBA is leaning towards more and more in-game advertising and marketing.
If and when the NBA actually does implement the smart jersey, the door is wide open for marketing possibilities. First, the possibility for teams to have rotating sponsor patches. Similar to an electronic sign on the side of a highway, the sponsor patch on the jersey can rotate based on time intervals, or points in the game. Furthermore, breaks in gameplay can bring an entire new form of advertising. The smart jerseys will, theoretically, have the ability to display graphic content like advertisements. While this concept is still a good distance away in the future, it is certainly not too early to start thinking about the possibilities. While a Nike sneaker advertisement featuring LeBron James may have a great impact in a magazine, it is hard to imagine that anything would be able to beat a Nike sneaker advertisement on LeBron’s jersey following a captivating slam dunk.
Furthermore, one can only imagine the effect these jerseys will have on children. I certainly would have been captivated by a jerseys advertising display when I was a young fan at a game. The beauty that these jerseys can bring to advertising companies is that the attention of the viewer is already on the players. Unlike a commercial, the uphill battle of gaining the attention of the audience is gone. When all eyes are already on the players, the advertisement just has to be shown to be seen. All in all, the NBA smart jerseys bring a fresh, fun, and innovative concept that has the potential to change sports marketing across every major sports league, and perhaps even college sports. The once futuristic idea is not as far off as it seems, and we could very well see sports jerseys play a huge role in advertising, marketing, and perhaps even public relations.