Instant Sponsor, it turns out, is pretty much what it sounds like: a company that lets advertisers bid for space on athletes’ attire for very short time periods. In other words, the Instant Sponsor logo patch is like a “Your Ad Here” sign. Obviously, this is for athletes who don’t already have sponsorship deals, so this is primarily a vehicle for bottom-feeders.
So just what does it cost to place an ad on Casey Dellacqua’s breast (or wherever), and just who tends to bid for that privilege? Well, an anonymous bidder apparently spent $1500 to buy a sleeve patch on James Duckworth’s shirt for the first two rounds of the Aussie Open, but this photo of Duckworth’s second round match shows him wearing the Instant Sponsor logo, not an actual sponsorship patch, so maybe the anonymous bidder’s check bounced or something. Hmmmm.
A sleeve patch on Kevin Anderson’s shirt for the third round tomorrow will cost more — a minimum of $3200. It’s not clear if this is because it’s for a later-round match or because Anderson is a higher-ranked player than Duckworth. Either way, nobody has bid yet.
Brinke notes that “patch deals” have been common in other tournaments for years. Basically, some upstart nobody who’s about to face a top player in a televised match will be approached in the locker room shortly before the match by a sponsor (or a broker for several sponsors) and be told, “Here, wanna make a quick $1000 today? Wear this logo on your sleeve.” (There was once a really good ESPN.com story about this, but it has stubbornly resisted my Googling efforts. If anyone has the link, please pass it along.)
But Instant Sponsor takes things to a new level, because the auction format means anyone can slap their logo on Casey Dellacqua’s breast (or wherever), instead of just the insiders who’ve already prepaid for locker room access. There are still a few aspects of this that I don’t fully understand — for example, how big a cut of the cash do the athletes get? Does the athlete have any recourse if the high bidder turns out to be a business he or she doesn’t like? How does a bidder’s logo (presumably submitted as a jpg) get turned into a patch in time for the match?
Still, it’s an intriguing model — so intriguing, in fact, that I’m thinking of bidding myself. Imagine it: the Uni Watch logo on Casey Dellacqua’s breast (or wherever), right there at the Australian Open. Pretty sweet, right? Or instead of the UW logo, how about a patch that says, “Corporate sponsorship sucks.” Lots of fun possibilities here.
The only problem is that I don’t have a spare $3200 lying around. But if everyone reading this right now tossed in 25¢ — or, more realistically, if a relatively small number of you were willing to part with a Hamilton — we’d be good to go.
So what say ye, Uni Watchers — should we start an Instant Sponsorship fund? How much would you be willing to contribute? Go on, don’t be shy — put your money where my mouth is.
Oh, and by the way, there’s be a new ESPN column today — a big slideshow of childhood uni photos. Some of them have previously appeared here, others are new. Enjoy.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Lots of underwear debate in the world of skiing. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: The Devils marked Patrick Elias’s 1000th game by giving him a No. 1000 jersey. … Word through the grapevine is that the next college basketball team to go gray will be Syracuse, in a few weeks. … Oh wait, yet another team going gray: Penn State (from Gerry Dincher). … The excellent Remember the Aba site has put together its own assessment of the NBA’s new ABA throwbacks (from Bill Jones). … Here’s a really interesting little article about how Jews have pioneered gloves in several different sports (from Seth Horowitz). … This is interesting: Johnny Damon bats and throws left-handed, but he golfs right-handed (good spot by Lou DeGeorge). … What if every Chicago sports team had a jersey sponsor? The answer might be something like this. Okay, it probably wouldn’t be like that after all, but that’s what they came up with (from Bob Dlotkowski). … Wanna design your own cap? Now you can (from Mike Lindsay). … Spalding has formed “a strategic partnership” — as opposed to all those non-strategic partnerships — with Sports Specialties, a sports construction company. … This isn’t exactly a “kids in uniform” photo, but check out this shot of Muhammad Ali. “The little white guy is me,” says John Waddill. “It’s one of my prized possessions.” … Speaking of kid shots, Susan Freeman sent in a shot of her dad from 1954, when he was 13. My god, look at the size of that shoulder patch! It was for something called the Junior Optimists, an organization that still exists. … Jeff Barak was doing some photo research on former NHL ref Andy Van Hellemond and came across something he (and I) had never seen before: Van Hellemond with an NHL logo on his orange armband. “I’m wondering if it might have been for an All-Star game, or maybe something like a Canada Cup tournament,” says Jeff. Anyone know more? … Speaking of the NHL, longtime hockey journalist Howard Berger has listed his picks for the top NHL uniforms of various eras. … New helmet storage room for Cal. “The helmets without the gold stripe are some of the practice helmets, and the ones with the stripes are game helmets,” explains Kyle Mackie. … John Waddill attended the first Dallas Mavericks game ever played, on Oct. 11, 1980 — an easy date for him to remember, since he and all the other fans in attendance received this commemorative medallion. “The basketball was the authenticity tag,” he says. “Here’s the back of both and the nice pouch that they came in.” … New flag-desecration jersey for the Pensacola Ice Flyers (from Ryan Bohannon). … Yesterday’s post about belt buckles reminded Tracy Ruckel about these Royals buckles in her (his?) collection. … New spring training logo for the Orix Buffaloes (from Jeremy Brahm). … Also from Jeremy: If anyone’s in the mood for translating, here’s an interview with Majestic’s Japanese manager. If you want the highly imperfect (but often highly amusing) Babelfish translation, that’s available here. … Michigan and Michigan State went color-vs.-color last night (from Jackson Nock). … As you can see from that last photo, Michigan was wearing blue shoes and socks with the maize unis. Sometimes they wear “>white socks. Either way, as James Bernard notes, they’re no longer adhering to the Fab Five’s protocol of black shoes and socks. … Here’s the Hamilton Bulldogs’ jersey for the AHL Winter Classic. … Hey, here’s a great bargain! If you pay $25 for a Florida license plate that gives free advertising to the Miami Heat, you’ll also be giving free advertising to American Airlines. If you scroll down to the “Professional Sports” section on this page, you’ll see that no other Florida specialty plate offers this unique two-for-one douchebaggery (from Brendan Dwyer). … Remember when Ohio football went BFBS and the players all acted like 14-year-old girls who’d won a date with, uh, whoever 14-year-old girls fantasize about? They’ve done it again, this time with the basketball team. But here’s the best part: In a perfect confluence of two idiotic trends, this game was black vs. gray (from Johnny Bruno). … Swoosh Inc.’s favorite media mouthpiece is promising “big Nike news” today, oh boy (thanks, Brinke). … This is awesome: Oilers QB Dan Pastorini wearing a ski mask under his helmet on a cold 1977 day in Cleveland. That’s from a great little video clip that I fully recommend for your viewing pleasure (major thanks to Bill Kellick):