As you can see from the ads surrounding this blog, it is being hosted by my newspaper, which likes to make money. So it invites advertisers to participate in our online publication, for which they pay us. That is a normal part of the way companies operate. So, naturally, sports teams aren't content to just get sponsors for the televised games these days. Even the stadiums have sponsors, so the high overhead costs can be recovered. Some worry about this going too far:
ALONG with the usual signs from advertisers, the new Indianapolis Colts stadium features a hallway filled with dishwashers, refrigerators and washing machines, brought to football fans by the retailer Hhgregg, which is based in Indianapolis.
It is the latest frontier in stadium sponsorship, showing how far sports teams are willing to go to attract marketing dollars.
“We think we've kind of taken it to a new level,” said Pete Ward, the senior executive vice president for the Colts.
At the stadium, there are gasoline pumps in the north gate area, sponsored by Lucas Oil, airplane seats in the AirTran Airways food court in the northwest section and cars in the northeast corner, sponsored by Chevrolet. The Indiana law firm of Baker & Daniels sponsors the club lounges at the western end of the stadium, and Advantage Health Solutions, a medical plan, sponsors the club lounges at the eastern end. Sprint sponsors the east gate, Huntington Bank the west, and Hhgregg the south.
As the story notes, some fans are likely to be put off by such extensive marketing, feeling like they could have just stayed home and watched the game on TV if they'd wanted to be bombarded by ads. So there has to be a "fine balance" between getting the message out and not having it so overcommercialized that the fans are actually turned off from the brand.
I think the trick is to be as unobtrusive as possible. Fans won't mind, for example, an aisle full of appliances when they go to a ballgame. They can walk down the aisle or not, as they choose. It's when their senses are assaulted from every possible angle, when there is no escaping ads during any waking moment, that they start to become annoyed. (The preceding sentence was brought to you by General Motors. Help a good American company avoid bankruptcy by running out and buying a pickup -- in Fort Wayne, so you help the local economy, too!)
It's a fine line, I know, but we might as well get used to walking it. One of the little-remarked-upon aspects of the communications revolution is the upheaval in the advertising industry. There are so many products and services being pushed today, and so many media in which to push them, that companies are going to be trying ever new ways to get our attention.
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