There was a little bit of a stir when Tiger Woods showed up to Pebble Beach last weekend with KT Tape on the back of his neck once again.
KT Tape is otherwise known as Kinesio Tape. A stretchy tape athletes use to relieve pain while supporting ligaments, tendons, and muscles.
This was a clear indicator that something wasn't right. Obviously, any inkling of injury to Woods' neck or back is cause for concern.
Woods noted that his back was feeling achy and the colder temperatures do not help with any soreness he acquires from hitting shot after shot in a major event.
“My back impacts every shot I play – it’s just part of the deal,” Woods said. “Let me put it this way: I feel every shot I hit. I think that’s always going to be the case from here going forward.
“It’s all the same,” Woods added. “It’s been like that for years. The forces have to go somewhere. And if they’re not in the lower back, they’re in the neck. And if not, they’re in the mid-back. And if not, they go to the knee. You name it.”
The reason I reference Woods using KT Tape is because this same scenario occurred during the 2018 Open Championship. To my knowledge, Woods is not sponsored by KT Tape, but by merely wearing it on his neck, the slightly visible tape drew close to $4 million in media value.
If you take notice, Nike athletes on the PGA Tour do not wear additional logos on their shirts or hats. It’s always Nike.
Nike athletes like Woods, Brooks Koepka, and Jason Day sign exclusive apparel, footwear, and hat deals with the iconic brand. Nike’s deal with these athletes covers the compensation they would receive if they decided to mix-and-match other brand’s logos on their hats, shirts, and footwear.
So, it is nearly impossible to get any logo other than Nike on the body of golf’s most polarizing athlete: Tiger Woods. But KT Tape somehow made their way on the back of Woods’ neck during the 2018 Open Championship.
According to ESPN reporter Darren Rovell, Woods generated $3.96 million in equivalent advertising from the logos on tape.
It wasn’t just the television-air time but the press coverage as well. KT Tape’s story was featured in thousands of publications, including Golf Magazine (Golf.com), Golf Digest, and ESPN.
Twitter and Instagram also exploded with people posting photos, videos, and creating a buzz. Everyone had to know what was wrong with Tiger Woods and why he had this mysterious tape on the back of his neck.
According to KT Tape’s Chief Marketing Officer Russ Schleiden, the website traffic that afternoon exceeded 300 percent. All because two little strips of tape could be seen on the back of Woods’ neck.
The NBA took a real leap of faith when they implemented jersey sponsorships a few years ago.
Old-schoolers will tell you it's not good for the game. That it'll look tacky or too commercialized. But the numbers behind the 2.5 x 2.5-inch patches do not lie....these sponsorships were worth every cent.
It was reported this week that Navigate, a sports and entertainment research firm, analyzed five NBA jersey sponsorship deals to see their true value. Not surprising, each (originally valued between $3-7 million) was valued well above their annual fee.
In that same report, GumGum sports proclaimed the dynasty Golden State Warriors generated north of $40 million for their jersey sponsor, Rakuten.
The Warriors only generated $3.9 million from team-operated social media accounts. The remaining $36.1 million was generated through additional social media outlets and television.
From the outside looking in, it's hard to envision such a small patch having a multi-million dollar impact. But Matt Balvanz, Senior Vice President of Analytics at Navigate, summed it up perfectly on why there is such a significant impact.
“Jersey patches are unique because people are always taking pictures of players, teams are posting highlights of players, and there’s all this focus on the players with the one brand tagged to them," he explained.
Going back to the idea of the sponsor logo looking tacky or over commercialized, I'd like to point out that Warriors' jersey sales have not wavered in the slightest.
"We have not seen one level of drop off in an in-store purchase or an in-team purchase because people were 'trying to avoid the badge'," Vice President of Corporate Partnerships, Mike Kitts, said. “In fact, we’re seeing 100 percent great adoption of it.
"If you want to look at the KPIs, that’s a huge success. And then the economics that far surpassed everybody’s expectations. So I think all of those successes aggregated tell us that this program is here to stay for the long-term."
So until it happens, I will continue to advocate for the NFL, MLB, and NHL to jump into the jersey sponsorship pool. A few weeks ago it was reported in a piece by Sports Illustrated that the NFL could rake in an additional $200-plus million from jersey sponsorship deals.
One of the hurdles will be making certain these logos do not look tacky. For example, the Rakuten logo on the Warriors' jerseys looks like it should be there since it blends in with the team's color scheme.
Have a look at the mockup I did for Bryce Harper and Carson Wentz...if you can't tell already I am a Philly guy.
Notice how the color schemes of the logos blend in with each uniform. Obviously, these are mockups so there is a level of tackiness to these. But if implemented correctly, I don't see how fans, or people around the game in general, would have an issue with these sponsorship activations.