The weekend before it was announced, the Phoenix Mercury “locked” their web site and said that a huge announcement was due on Monday, June 1. What could it be? Would it be something the fans would like? And then they told us. LifeLock has become a corporate sponsor of the Phoenix Mercury, and as such has bought the right to put its name on the team’s jerseys.
I have to tell you, I don’t mind the concept at all. I’ve watched international sports for quite a while, and you do get used to seeing jerseys (and playing fields) festooned with sponsorships. For a league like the WNBA, it is probably a better financial model to follow than to try to gut it out without overt sponsorship.
What I mind is the implementation. Let’s take a look at the old jersey design:
Clean and efficient (the white jersey has “Mercury” instead of “Phoenix” across the chest). This is what the new design was unveiled to be:
How awful is that? Tell me honestly: if you saw this jersey, what team would you think this was? Phoenix? The Mercury? No…you’d think it was the LifeLocks. Shoot, I know what team it is and I think it’s the LifeLocks.
When I watch international ball, I often don’t know on sight many of the players, know their names, or even have a clue as to what the team colors are. Too often, the only name on a jersey is the corporate sponsor…which give you no clue as to who the announcers are referring to. It’s frustrating as all get out.
But… some teams have found a compromise. Look here at what Taurasi’s Russian team did:
As modeled by Sue Bird, we not only have number and sponsor but also the team name. Radical, huh? So, in the spirit of Russian entrepreneurship (25 years ago, who’d have thought of such a thing) I want to propose this solution to both the Phoenix and WNBA front offices:
Keep the team-identified design, but add BELOW the number a banner for the sponsor. You get the ad, the team retains its identity, and the casual fan isn’t confused all to hell. You can even have an ad banner front and back if you want.
What confounds me is why the worst possible option was chosen for the unveiling? All I can hope is that they will see the error of their ways and, in the tradition of the league, go with the fan-friendlier design.
Whether you agree with me or not, I encourage you to contact the Mercury, the WNBA, and LifeLock with your approval or disapproval. As I said, I have no problem with the concept. In my opinion, the only thing making this a turnover instead of an assist is the execution.