Demosthenes Spiropoulos

Shirt Sponsor Shenanigans

March 15, 2021 - Volume 3, Issue 32

The new Major League Soccer season is upon us, and just a week or so ago, my beloved LA Galaxy unveiled their new secondary kit, dubbed "The Community Kit," and it's an absolute beauty. An homage/straight up copy of a beloved jersey design back when our colors were green and gold.

It was universally lauded, except for one thing... the shirt sponsor.

Right off the bat, let me just say that shirt sponsors/advertisers are ok. Sponsorship helps keep many sports afloat, and that's always a win. However, for the Galaxy, being associated with Herbalife, what many consider a multi-level marketing scheme isn't a good look, and the bane of many a Galaxy fan. Some Herbalife fans (I know there are a couple out there) will be quick to defend it and claim it is not a MLM. Fine, but the fact that this is a conversation we're having says all that needs to be said about this company.

Herbalife has been the shirt sponsor for the Galaxy since front-of-shirt sponsors became an official thing about a decade or so ago, and has always been the worst part of any Galaxy jersey. I know many, many fans that would agree with me, so it's not just some lone blogger screaming into the abyss about how Herbalife is a considered a miss as far as shirt sponsors go.

That proved to be the seed for today's post. If I could swap shirt sponsors with any other MLS team, which one would it be? Well, as it turns out, I've compiled a ranking of current MLS shirt sponsors. NOTE: Inter Miami is not on this list because they are currently sans sponsor, but we know that won't last.

Here was the selection criteria:
1) Preferably a company I've actually heard of.
2) something with a nice design element.
3) something I wouldn't mind having on the front of a Galaxy jersey.

Let's begin.

1) Target // Minnesota United

It makes perfect sense for Minnesota-based Target to sponsor Minnesota United. Target is generally beloved the public and I think would look great on the G's jersey (on the home white kit with the sash, they might want to use the logo + the word mark to fit it in). I'd make this swap today.

2) Alaska Airlines // Portland Timbers
Etihad Airlines // New York City FC

Airlines make for great shirt sponsors. For these two in MLS, they both fit their clubs: Alaska Airlines dominates the northwest market, where Portland is; and the dude that owns Etihad also owns NYCFC. I would be comfortable swapping with either. But maybe, we go with new airline instead. JetBlue, anyone?

3) Nationwide // Columbus Crew SC

Nationwide Insurance is headquartered in Columbus, making another perfect pairing between sponsor and club. I would do a swap here because the logo design on the shirt is not obtrusive, and I like the idea of the Galaxy being nationwide, and... "on your side."

4) Transamerica // Colorado Rapids

Another insurance company, but this one is without the locall connection to the club. Again, sweet and easy logo design, and again, I like the idea of the Galaxy being trans-american. It ranks lower than Nationwide because just a word mark logo is pretty meh.

5) Motorola // Chicago Fire

Remember when everyone had a Razr flip phone? Ya... good times. Honestly, I didn't know Motorola was still in business, but it's a company that everyone has heard of, and as a pretty decent logo/word mark. The Chicago Fire previously had Quaker Oats as a shirt sponsor and that's still a better choice than ours.

6) YouTube TV // LAFC

Los Angeles' second team, LAFC has the better of the two shirt sponsors. That is the only concession Galaxy fans will give them, and we would swapped with them in a heartbeat. Only reason they aren't higher is that I don't want this going to their heads (and lord knows it would).

7) Bank of Montreal // Toronto FC & CF Montreal

Yes, BMO sponsors two teams in MLS. Weird? A little. Would I swap with either one despite BMO having no branches in the U.S.? Yes. Remember this: English side Manchester United has Chevrolet as a shirt sponsor, but Chevys aren't sold in the UK. Hence, a BMO-Galaxy link wouldn't be unheard of. Could the Galaxy opt for another bank altogether? Perhaps, but big national banks like Bank of America and Wells Fargo aren't exactly well-loved in general. Maybe Chase? Perhaps a more regional bank like Bank of the West?

8) Yeti // Austin FC

The boring all-caps word mark almost makes me want to drop it lower in the rankings, but it's... okay-ish. I do like the brand though, and it's still better than what we got.

9) Mercy Health // FC Cincinnati
MD Anderson Cancer Center // Houston Dynamo
United Healthcare // New England Revolution
Orlando Health // Orlando City FC

That's a lot of healthcare companies as shirt sponsors. Why do they need to sponsor sports anyways? Anyways, instead of a swap, if we the Galaxy did go with a healthcare company, it make more sense to go with he company that is the current stadium naming partner: Dignity Health. But again, why are healthcare companies sponsoring these things? Trying to drum up business?

10) The Victory Project // Sporting Kansas City

The Victory Project isn't a company, but a charitable organization, kind of like when Barcelona had UNICEF on their kits. This is the first time a charity has gotten front of shirt coverage in MLS. Only reason this isn't higher is that it's simply a stopgap. Their old shirt sponsor - Ivy Investments - pulled out and SKC are looking for a new sponsor. However, to keep up appearances and not look like they can't get a new sponsor, Sporting opted for a charity in the meantime. (What? I have a marketing degree, I know how the sausage gets made).

11) Bimbo Bakeries // Philadephia Union

Living in L.A., and specifically around the corner from a Mexican market, Bimbo bread is nothing new. Grupo Bimbo is like the largest bakery in Mexico, but did you know that Bimbo Bakeries USA is the American arm of that company and the largest commercial bakery in the U.S., and based in Pennsylvania? Now you do. I do like that they are using two different brands on their two different shirts (the second kit was a fan submission... so ya). According to the Word of God, the name "Bimbo" was first coined in 1945 when the company switched from Super Pan S.A. A blend of the words "bingo" and "Bambi" with the name's innocent, childlike associations fitting the image that the company wished to build. The English word "bimbo", with its negative connotations, has no cognate in Spanish. But yes, I still giggle.

12) Bell // Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Bell is a Canadian Telecom company, so no surprise that they would sponsor a Canadian team. Their word mark logo is a bit boring. Would still make this swap.

13) American Family Insurance // Atlanta United

Boring, but at least reputable compared to the G's current sponsor. Logo would fit in the spacing on the home kit sash. The name is a bit cumbersome though.

14) Zulily // Seattle Sounders

Seattle-based Zulily is an online retailer, and I do love when companies sponsor their home teams. Their script logo doesn't excite me. Still better than what we got.

15) Red Bull // New York Red Bulls

Let's state the obvious. Red Bull owns RBNY. If we swapped with them, we'd most likely rebrand as the L.A. Red Bulls, and be a feeder team for Red Bull's other teams in Leipzig and Salzburg. Ya, I said it. Only reason this ranks this high is the logo on the front of the shirt is super clean.

16) MTX // FC Dallas
Leidos // DC United
Renasant // Nashville SC
Intermedia Cloud Communications // San Jose Earthquakes

These four got grouped together into the "I've never heard of these companies before" bucket. I had to look up each one to see what they do. I should never have to do that with a shirt sponsor. Still better than a MLM though. To be fair, Renasant is a regional bank, and I was talking about using one for the G's. But I still had to look it up, so it gets grouped here. Hey, it's my rankings.

17) LifeVantage // Real Salt Lake

Think of it as the Utah version of Herbalife. The only reason I would swap with them is that LifeVantage almost SOUNDS like it might be an insurance company, so not suuuuper shady. But I hear that Herbalife is actually a better MLM than LifeVantage, so I don't know what that means.

18) Herbalife Nutrition // LA Galaxy

Ah, Herbalife. Every hardcore Galaxy fan knows the contract with Herbalife ends in 2022, and the chatter online says that the team is looking to make a change. We fans even joke that they'll be a spike in jersey sales when it a new sponsor is announced. Personally, if we have to keep Herbalife, I prefer the old logo.

I could speculate all day long on who would make a "good" shirt sponsor for the Galaxy. Do they go with a local company? Do they go with a global one? Do they go with a company that best matches the image and identity the team has as the Crown Jewel of Major League Soccer? The possibilities are endless.

The other side of the equation can't be overlooked. Companies have to want to sponsor an MLS team, and have to have the funds to do so. For a lot of these companies, the less expensive ad spot of the shirt sleeve may be the way to go, as it allows you to have a presence on the kit without too much of a money commitment. Remember, Sporting Kansas City is "in-between" sponsors, and Inter Miami doesn't have one yet. This whole Rona thing hasn't helped either.

In the end, does it matter to my personal fandom? No. I love my Galaxy, and I still wear the kits I have purchased for myself because that's what fans do. (including this sweet "Night Navy" kit).

Thanks for visiting. Love, Demosthenes Spiropoulos