Today’s announcement that Bimbo (pronounced BEEM-bo) Bakeries will advertise on the jerseys of Philadelphia Union Players means the team will finally be associated with a brand: a common and arguably important aspect of professional soccer worldwide.
Many fans of the English Premiere League team Liverpool FC don’t consider team jerseys authentic unless they include the iconic Carlsberg beer logo.
The Mexican baking company Bimbo is often mistaken for something having to do with dim women. Since moving its American headquarters from Texas to Horsham, it’s launched a billboard campaign along I-95, with ads reading “Say Beembo.”.
But it should get more face time in the region now that Union players will each have the company’s emblem on their jerseys. Andrew Zimbalist is a professor of sports economics at Smith College. He says in Europe, jersey sponsors are typically among the biggest sponsors of a given team.
“Sponsorships of a soccer team in Europe generally go along with other kinds of advertising,” he said, “not just on the jersey, but probably be a certain agreement for advertising in stores selling company products or signage at a stadium or television and radio advertising.”
Zimbalist says American fans might tolerate in soccer what they wouldn’t put up with in other sports.
“There’s concern that if, say, the NBA or the NFL or Major League Baseball would just start plastering companies’ names on their shirts that the fans would reject that because of the history of those sports,” Zimbalist says. “but certainly in soccer, it’s always been a part of the game.”
The roughly $12 million deal will keep the Bimbo logo emblazoned on Union jerseys for four years.