Whatever the case, the company that paid good money to be associated with the “Red Zone” for the foreseeable future is Toyota. Fans may not have fond associations with memories of stalled-out drives and blown mid-range field goals. But now Toyota's name will be branded right on the field.
Verily. If San Francisco fans watching last night's anemic 23-3 loss to Baltimore gleaned nothing else, they witnessed the dawn of of high-priced ads being digitally projected onto an NFL field of play.
It's a brave new world for garish, ubiquitous advertising.
[jump] Baseball players in Japan and soccer stars in Europe and elsewhere are, themselves, walking billboards. In the realm of soccer, featuring a prominent ad over your heart where a team insignia might be is, in fact, a mark of professionalism. Even American soccer teams ape this lucrative trend.
American football and — especially — baseball teams have been slow to follow suit. NFL uniforms feature ads in the preseason and during practice, but not the regular season. Placing ads on a baseball player's uniform, meanwhile, would be the surest way to induce a cacophonous round of nostalgic lamentations from aging men enamored with the clean, uncluttered memories of Mickey Mantle's pinstripes.
TV ads have long been projected onto the backdrop behind a baseball catcher, but yesterday's foray onto the field of play set a new standard in off-putting graphics obscuring the sports we're ostensibly tuning in to watch.
Perhaps in the not-too-distant future, tepid fans will tune into the Super Bowl merely to watch the on-field virtual ads.