December 22, 2017

MLB Uniforms Will Feature Prominent Advertising By 2019

2018 will be the last baseball season in which major league players' uniforms are free from outside advertising.

MLB's 10-year agreement with Under Armour Inc., scheduled to begin in 2020, will apparently start one year earlier. (And, actually, the new UA uniforms may be used for the 2018 postseason.)

Under this partnership, Under Armour will provide all 30 teams "with all their on-field uniforms, including jerseys that will feature the company's branding, as well as base layer and game-day outerwear gear, and training apparel". The UA logo will appear on the chest of every player's jersey, on the right side just above the team name.

For MLB's part, Commissioner Rob Manfred says the deal will "help us drive our business forward". (Of course, it will.) Paul Lukas notes that Manfred's "one-year tenure [as commissioner] has already included the addition of the New Era logo on game caps, the addition of the Stance logo on game socks, the addition of the MLB logo on game pants". (And it turns out Manfred is not very good at hiding his lies.)

I am a little unclear as to how the UA logo signifies a new phase of advertising different from the New Era or Stance logo. (Stance is, of course, the official sock of MLB.) Are manufacturers' logos considered different than corporate advertising - or "outside" advertising, as I called it above? Is the highly-visible placement of the logo the issue?

All of the logos are advancing commercial interests to some degree and Rule 3.03(j) of MLB's Official Rules states: "No part of the uniform shall include patches or designs relating to commercial advertisements."

Bonus: Lukas reports that in 2018, "the NBA Development League will be renamed the NBA Gatorade League".


allan said...

Le Batard: Rob, were you aware of Jeter's plan to trade players and slash payroll?

Manfred: You know, it's interesting. We—

Le Batard: Yes or no, please.

Manfred: You know, I'm happy to do yes or nos—

Le Batard: You can elaborate afterward, I just want to know if you were aware of the plan. Did you approve a plan that had "slash payroll" again for South Florida?

Manfred: We do not approve operating decisions by any ownership. New owner, current owners or not. And as a result the answer to your question is no.

Le Batard: Rob, Rob—

Manfred: I'm not gonna be deposed like this is some adversary thing. You want me to ask me questions, I'll answer them the way I want to answer them. If that's not good enough, we'll move on.

Le Batard: [Y]ou're coming on here and saying you weren't aware of Jeter's plan to trade players and slash payroll? We're starting with a lie, Rob. That's where we're starting. You can't tell me you're not aware of that.

Manfred: I'm not going to sit here and have you call me a liar.


But, Mr. Manfred, you are a liar.

allan said...

Miami Herald:

Two people directly involved in the sales process said that Jeter and Sherman were required to tell other owners their intentions with payroll during the approval process, and that they informed the other owners that payroll would be cut from $115 million to the $85 million to $90 million range, with $85 million used at times and $90 million other times in those discussions. ...

A source directly involved in the Marlins sales process, after hearing the Le Batard interview, said, via text: "Commissioner said was not aware of [Jeter] plan to slash payroll. Absolutely not true. They request and receive the operating plan from all bidders. [Jeter's plan to reduce payroll to $85 million] was vetted and approved by MLB ..."


FenFan said...

As much as I dislike ESPN, I dislike Manfred even more. He has a ways to go to complete with the likes of Selig in terms of incompetence but he is certainly laying the groundwork.

Meanwhile, to the point of your post... how long until Rule 3.03(j) is augmented by the Rules Committee? Absolutely these logos benefit the owners of the trademark and thus should be considered commercial advertisements.

allan said...

Well, in addition to MLB refusing to enforce the rule against players on opposing teams talking to each other while in uniform (4.06), the umpires ignore the 12-second rule for pitchers when the bases are empty (5.07(c)) and the rule that batters must keep one foot in the box at all times (5.04(b)(4)), and the umpires regularly invent their own strike zones, oftentimes changing its dimensions during the game (or even during a single at-bat), so I doubt MLB is in a rush to update the logo rule!

Is there a difference between having the New Era logo on caps because New Era makes the caps and Burger King or Walmart paying for its logo on uniforms? In a strict sense, no, there is not. There is absolutely no need to have any company's logo on the socks or caps or jerseys or pants or cleats or gloves. The logo does not aid in the functioning of any of those items. But I think a lot of fans accept those logos where they would be annoyed at seeing a Chevrolet logo.

Clem said...

And of course, they have even allowed non-sportswear-related corporate ads on to the uniforms for those Japanese season openers going back to 2000, with no official explanation about the rule being waived. Of course, the owners want this, but they know they've got the most nostalgia-dependent business models and have to work toward it. Rob Manfred has come as close as he would to admitting that the UA logo will, in addition to being a pile of cash for the owners, will also be a test for how much non-team related imagery fans will tolerate on the baseball uniform.