Bundesliga’s shirt advertising
On May 30th 2015, when the finals of the German cup were broadcasted, Hannes von Döhren, Livius Dietzel, and I were excitedly sitting in front of our televisions. Not because we’re fans of Borussia Dortmund or VfL Wolfsburg; Just recently the new corporate typeface of Volkswagen had been released, which Hannes and Livius had designed and I had produced. So we were curious to see it for the first time in huge application on advertising boards and shirt advertising.
At the end Wolfsburg won the cup for the first time in their history, but actually notable was something else: We had spotted “our” typeface not just where we expected it, but also on the backs of the winners’ shirts! And as far as I know, this was the first time an exclusive corporate typeface of a sponsor has been used for a team’s shirt typography at all.
“Advertising on other parts of the garment is only allowed if it is consistent advertising of the whole Bundesliga”
(Anhang IV zur Lizenzordnung: Richtlinie für Spielkleidung und Ausrüstung, Kapitel IV §17)
“Werbung auf anderen Bestandteilen der Spielkleidung ist, mit Ausnahme der Werbung für den Sportartikelhersteller gemäß Kapitel V., nur dann zulässig, wenn es sich um einheitliche Sponsoringmaßnahmen der Bundesliga und/oder 2. Bundesliga handelt. ”
Anhang IV zur Lizenzordnung: Richtlinie für Spielkleidung und Ausrüstung, Kapitel IV §17
Nevertheless, sponsors have always tried to maximise their presence on football shirts:
1. Club emblem and name
Sponsors have tried to capture name and club emblems of clubs:
Eintracht Braunschweig was the club that invented shirt advertising in Germany. Jägermeister’s first direct attempt was being forbidden, so they simply changed the club’s logo to the logo of the sponsor, only adding the club’s initials to it.
RB Leipzig, an artificial club created by a sponsor, was first called “Red Bull Leipzig”, but since it’s not allowed to have a sponsor’s name in the club name, they created the nonsense term “RasenBallsport” (“LawnBallsport”) to keep the sponsor’s initials (set in Red Bull’s typeface). Of course the logo was also very close to the sponsor’s logo, and they only changed as little as possible to get the license from the DFL.
This sponsor has always been creative when it comes to making their teams look like their corporate design. Also in Austria, where they bought FC Austria Salzburg and changed – besides the logo, of course – their colours from violet and white to white and red. (Meanwhile the fans re-founded their club: http://www.austria-salzburg.at/)
The colours of VfL Bochum are blue and white, but in 1997, their sponsor had the idea to expand their shirt advertising to the whole shirt. So they applied their company’s rainbow colours to it – still one of the ugliest shirts in German football history.
3. Shirt numbers?
So the next step might be shirt numbers. I think hardly anybody recognised the VW typeface on Wolfsburg’s shirts yet. But what if a company with a more eye-catching corporate identity starts to sponsor your club?