NBA teams can expand global footprint with up to two international marketing campaigns

NBA teams will be allowed to have up to two international advertising campaigns starting this season, building on the successful patch program which has allowed organizations to create more revenue.

Initially, teams were barred from participating in marketing campaigns or events outside of where they play home games. The rule still remains in the U.S., but The Wall Street Journal reported Monday teams will now have the ability to have their branding or players appear in other countries.

"The NBA doesn't want the Celtics to go into Hollywood to do a Celtics marketing activation—that’s to protect the teams and the brands," Richie Smith, the Boston Celtics’ director of strategy and business development, told The Wall Street Journal. "While we still can’t do that, the league has opened up restrictions when it comes to international markets."

The move reportedly is piggybacking off of the league’s successful approach to an advertisement on franchise's jerseys.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James congratulates forward Anthony Davis during a timeout in the first half of the team's preseason NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J

More than 50 percent of the brands seen on NBA jerseys have a big international market and teams will be allowed to use the patch for one of their international marketing campaigns, Amy Brooks, the NBA’s president of team marketing and business operations and chief innovation officer, told the newspaper.

“The success of the patch program and the types of companies that were in it was an indicator to us that this was an opportunity to help grow our brand and our partners’ brands globally,” she said.

The Golden State Warriors feature the Japanese electronic commerce company Rakuten on their shoulder, the Brooklyn Nets have had Nike and Infor – an enterprise software company – on their jerseys while the Los Angeles Lakers sport Nike and Wish – an e-commerce platform.

Jerseys patches drove $106 million in sponsorship value during U.S. television broadcasts last season, according to Nielsen data. Nielsen works with 23 of the 30 teams in the NBA and the league itself.


Officials from the Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks said the patches became their top sponsorship asset. The patches are 2.5 by 2.5 inches and has generated more than $150 million in revenue, Sports Business Daily reported in February. An official told the website the price for a patch could increase between 20 or 30 percent by the 2019-20 season.