Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A.P. Ranks ‘Em From 1-11: Jersey Sponsors in MLS

The San Jose Earthquake became the 11th team in Major League Soccer to reel in a jersey sponsor Tuesday when they secured Amway as their official sponsor. To celebrate their (well mostly the leagues) new found money I am ranking the sponsors and team. My ranking is based on three qualities, each with 5 possible positive and negative points:
• Company Reputation
• Money involved
• Logo Design (includes how well it works with the kit)

The Top 11
1. Seattle Sounders: 4 million annually
Company Reputation: 5
Money: 5
Logo Design: 5
Total Score: 15
Seattle scored big when they brought Microsoft and XBOX 360 LIVE in as a sponsor. It is hard to get a bigger company than Microsoft. Seattle and Microsoft work great together because Seattle has a great tech industry. The young and technological savvy crowd that Major League Soccer attracts is a great fit for Microsoft. Microsoft bring the money, and they brought top dollar to the deal with the Sounders.

The design works too. The Sounder’s colors fit the XBOX and the XBOX’s colors fit the Sounders. It’s the perfect match.

2. DC United: 3.1 to 3.7 million annually
Company Reputation: 5
Money: 4.5
Logo Design: 5
Total Score: 14.5
DC United is a very close second to Seattle. Volkswagen is a top company that everyone immediately recognizes. Not only do they support DC, but Volkswagen is a main sponsor of the league itself. Every time you see the logo you have to think of DC, even if you are at a RSL vs Colorado game.

The Volkswagen logo looks classy on both the home and away jerseys. The white and black negative spaces are simple and clear. I love the round design; eons better than “Volkswagen” splayed across the kit.

3. New York Red Bulls: Part of a 100 million dollar deal
Red Bull
Company Reputation: 4
Money: 5
Logo Design: 5
Total Score: 14
Metrostars fans might hate me but I like Red Bull as a sponsor. The jerseys look great. The Bulls on front give off the brand without the company name yelling out who they are. The money is wonderful as well. Red Bull has brought increased press, a new stadium, and an improved commitment to the league.

Red Bull has always been a great sponsor of athletes, without them many fringe sports and athletes could not succeed. I admit to having yelled that Red Bull tastes like piss and then drinking a free can. They are good for the community.

4 (TIE). Chicago Fire: 2 to 4 million annually
Best Buy
Company Reputation: 4
Money: 3.5
Logo Design: 3
Total Score: 10.5
Best Buy is another great sponsor for Major League Soccer. The nationally known logo fits well with the Chicago Fire’s all red jerseys. I hate fighting the crowds in Best Buy, but I wouldn’t mind at a Fire game. The brand recognition is instantaneous; the white tag against the red background stands out and looks slightly garish. Did they only give the designer paint.NET? “Well I have the select a box tool, I don’t know how to change off white and black, and I have a paint can tool.”

The money is right too. I could not find clear figures so the Fire misses 5 points for money. A varied figure means they get a slightly lower score and miss out on fourth place by .5 points.

4 (TIE). Houston Dynamo: 1.785 million annually
Amigo Energy
Company Reputation: 3
Money: 2.5
Logo Design: 5
Total Score: 10.5
Amigo Energy is a local company that the South is familiar with but it does not hold the brand recognition that the top 4 have. While it doesn’t have the recognition it connects locally and bring recognition to a team that doesn’t always have the respect it deserves from the local government. At 1.785 million annually, Houston has secured enough money to put themselves right at the medium for sponsor money.

The logo is unique to the area and culture. It’s got flavor baby. The Amigo Energy logo is about more than just the company, it also talks about the culture in Houston, Texas.

5. Columbus Crew: 1 million annually
Company Reputation: 4
Money: 1
Logo Design: 5
Total Score: 10
Columbus Crew, the 2008 MSL Cup Champions are getting the short end of a stick shoved somewhere nasty. At 1 million annually they are tied with Real Salt Lake as worst negotiators (was it really was to appoint Steve Sampson to take care of it?). However, they stick at fifth place because Glidden has done more than pay their 1 million dollars and walk away.

The Glidden logo looks professional and cool on Columbus’ jerseys. The rounded logo, reminiscent of the Volkswagen design stands out and melds well with the kit. Glidden also has put more money into sponsoring MLS and they have a sweet line of paint at Home Depot where you can order custom MLS colors. Never done it, but I think it’s cool.

6. Toronto FC: 1 to 1.5 million annually
Company Reputation: 4
Money: 1.5
Logo Design: 3
Total Score: 8.5
At 1 to 1.5 million, Toronto FC isn’t getting anything spectacular from a bank. Toronto may excel at giving goals away but BMO isn’t quite as generous. BMO is a solid bank relatively free from the credit crisis but it doesn’t help that BMO is only accessible to those in Canada and Chicago. The brand recognition isn’t there.

The logo design is bland. The black BMO stands beside some kind of emoticon typed by a Japanese adolescent girl.

7. Chivas USA: 2 million annually
Company Reputation: 3
Money: 2.5
Logo Design: 2
Total Score: 7.5
The Comex group is the other paint company in MLS sponsor world. They want you to buy their paint and industrial smoothing products and proceed get all colorful and shit but the logo doesn’t tell me that. It says, “We sell white paint and if you paint an X, it will be in a totally sweet font. Schwing!”

While the money is right and the culture connection with South and Central America is there, the rest just got stabbed in Tijuana.

8. LA Galaxy: 4 to 5 million annually
Company Reputation: -5
Money: 5
Logo Design: 3
Total Score: 3
Oh Galaxy, when will you stop being so easy to pick on? Let’s get the positive out of the way. Hey um, HERBALIIIIIFE, you paid out some good money and I like the little plant design but I think it is missing a couple of leafs. The only way the Galaxy aren’t last in this list is the great money they are getting.

But Herbalife? Inappropriate business practices, running a pyramid scheme, many lawsuits, Herbalife has paid out 50 Million in lawsuits over the years. Do I need to say anymore about how sleazy life is in Herbalife?

9. Real Salt Lake: 1 million annually
Company Reputation: -2
Money: 1
Logo Design: 2
Total Score: 1
XanGo. Interesting name. If I stare at the name long enough and say it over and over in my mind it means I’m supposed to take some Xanax and Go somewhere exotic? RSL isn’t exactly making bank on this deal. Sure when they signed it they were in a horrible stadium with bouncy turf action but 1 million is pretty low.

The logo is sufficient but if that’s the kind of creativity XanGo inspires

10. San Jose Earthquakes: 2 to 3 million annually
Company Reputation: -6
Money: 3
Logo Design: 3
Total Score: 0
Amway, meet your neighbor pyramid Herbalife. Nice of you to sponsor a California team too. The two rivals have something in common; they will sell you stupid shit. Amway, I get your connection with California, they had riots and you caused riots in China! You are illegal in India and tried to get away with tax evasion in Canada! You are pure class.
At least you are paying decent money and were willing to change their logo color so it matches the Earthquake color scheme.

Contest still going, send in your great pictures, they don't have to be incredible, just you in action. Win a Bumpy Pitch T-Shirt or a 25 dollar gift certificate to
Here is a great shot of a converted trailer a Columbus crew fan brought to the game last year. Too bad it was super hot out and not many people wanted to go inside!
Columbus Crew Converted Trailer

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