As NHL fans, we live in perpetual fear that we're going to wake up one morning and discover our favorite team's uniforms are covered with the Pepsi swirl and the McDonald's arches and the Pillsbury Doughboy and the Cialis pitched-tent and about three dozen other commercial symbols. Which would suck, because they would all really detract from that spiffy Reebok logo ...
We see NASCAR drivers and European hockey players looking like human billboards. We look at our own playing surface and boards, where advertising is unavoidable. And we wonder what the next great advancement in corporate whore-ism will be for the NHL.
The New York Rangers pointed the way earlier this week, when they superimposed giant Subway sandwich shop logos and "Eat Fresh" banners on the glass behind the goals and between the benches during play. Check out how it looked in action:
The backlash was immediate. The ads were blasted on XM Home Ice radio. One fan was trying to organize a write-in campaign on the MSG Network's Rangers boards to reestablish "a divide between the sport and advertising for the sake of the integrity of the game." Kevin Schultz of FanHouse had a measured take on the sponsorship, saying that it's ultimately up to Rangers fans to decide whether the ads stay or go.
What's the fuss? Ads on the ice, ads on the boards, ads everywhere you look during a television broadcast. The eye isn't trained to have these digital ads join the patchwork, but it will be eventually. What makes the glass more sacred than center ice? We all have our lines drawn as far as what's "too far" in oversaturation or desecration via advertising. A CGI Subway logo on the glass is close to the line, but doesn't cross it. That said, what do you think?
Pass of Fail: The New York Rangers' digital advertising on the glass during televised games.