The Nets Will Give You Another Team’s Jersey

Last week, the New Jersey Nets began promoting other teams’ players.  Since Vince Carter was dealt to the Magic early in the NBA off-season, I honestly can’t name a player on the Nets.  Wait.  That’s not true.  One of the Lopez brothers from Stanford plays there and I think Devin Harris.  Regardless.  This week, the Nets started a promotion where fans buy a 10 game package and get five reversible jerseys.  The jerseys have a Nets player on one side (presumably they have more players than Lopez and Harris) and an opponent on the other side.

I’ve always been interested by the marketing efforts of teams, from minor league baseball teams to the big-time teams.  A team like the Yankees can rely on its reputation to put people in the seats, but other teams struggle.  Take the Nets’ former co-tennant of the Meadowlands, the NHL’s (and my) New Jersey Devils.  I was able to score tickets to game one of the 2000 Stanley Cup finals, scheduled for a Tuesday, the Saturday before the game.  I have a similar story for 2003.  The point is, the Devils struggle to put people in the seats and apparently the Nets do too.

I think the Nets’ campaign is interesting, but it crosses a dangerous line.  It’s one thing to run a promotion like this: “Come out and see your Nets take on LeBron James and the Cavaliers” to promote the opponent.  Teams even price their tickets based on opponents these days (just ask the Mets, who have at least six pricing levels depending on opponents).  The Nets, though, take this concept a step further by inviting fans to root for the opponent.  By doing so, I believe they’re devaluing their own product.  What jersey is a kid going to wear LeBron or Devin Harris?  Sure, they are getting people to the arena and maybe making some cash at the concession stands, but is that going to help build the Nets brand?  I’m not so sure.  Nets Marketing guru Brett Yormark is a bright guy and a real innovator in sports marketing, but this effort may be going too far.

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