In case it wasn’t already obvious, advertising is based around pairs of eyes. Which is to say; advertising only really works when you can guarantee a certain number of eyes are going to see your branding. It makes sense. But, the real question is; where can the most eyes be found, at any given time? Billboards are good, but not really where the real bang for your buck can be found. Instead, think of where millions of eyes are focused, for long periods of time. If you were thinking of the shirts of football players, you were on the right track.
It was common for the longest time to see football player’s shirts advertising alcoholic beverages, such as beer, but times are changing. These days it is popular online casino and other gambling companies that are finding their way onto these living billboards more than ever before. But how did this change occur?
Living Billboards – In History
Taking note of how shirt sponsorship has changed over the years is like a trip through advertising history. It also gives an interesting idea of where the most money is being generated, at any given time. When the Premier League first kicked off back in 1992, most shirts were adorned with the logos of consumer electronics, with just a few showing the brands of popular beers.
This remained the norm throughout the 90s, before change started to become apparent around the 2000’s. BetFair’s logo was first spotted on Fulham’s shirts in 2002, and it raised more than a few eyebrows, coming across as out of place and perhaps even a bit quirky. Today, of course, this is commonplace, and as of right now there is no longer a single beer logo visible on a Premier League shirt. We now have West Ham United and Betway Casino, as well as England itself being associated with Bet365. It has been a total conversion and one that has happened, interestingly, in just the last decade.
But why has this change occurred, and so quickly? Tim Crow CEO of Synergy, a marketing firm that is focused primarily on alcoholic beverages, had something to say on the subject. He stated that alcohol brands have gone through a major change, and as a result no longer invest in shirt sponsorship like they used to. Which is not to say they no longer invest in sports based advertising at all. On the contrary, all Premier League teams have some sort of sponsorship from an alcohol brand, it just no longer appears on shirts.
The simple truth is, when looking a little closer; The Portman Group pushed the move. The group is comprised of the leading producers of alcoholic products in the United Kingdom, and they put forward a new code of responsible advertising three years ago. The code called for advertising to be looked at more carefully, especially when it came to advertising situations that involved younger eyes.
Occupying The Gap
So, as beer sponsorship left the football shirt world, new companies began to step in and fill the gaps. From Chevrolet and Yokohama, to Emirates and many more big names, shirt rental space once again filed up fast.
The most interesting aspect of the changeover is that many of the new brands are foreign, which makes a great deal of sense given the cost effective nature of the situation. International brands gain an enormous amount of publicity as shirt sponsors, with eyes across the world taking notice.
In addition, of course, the most logical sponsor of all – online bookmakers. There is no more logical place for a bookmaker to advertise than the shirts of star players, and hence the new dominant industry to be seen in the football world, and the sporting world in general.