The Hightower Report

Transforming humans into billboards

Billboards must be living creatures, for they appear to propagate, spreading everywhere, growing to enormous size, shouting corporate messages at us – and even watching and tracking us with their digital eyes.

Now, though, rather than billboards becoming human, we humans are becoming billboards. Literally. For the love of money, the National Basketball Association is transforming its chief human asset – i.e., basketball players – into advertising placards that run, dribble, leap, twist, and dunk.

While individual golfers and race-car drivers have long splattered themselves with their sponsors' logos, NBA teams are now planning to become the first major U.S. sports league to sell ad space on their players' game-day jerseys. Chintzy? Well, yes – but not cheap. Team owners expect brand-name corporations to pay at least $100 million to have their logos plastered on the chests of basketball stars.

Calling this a "stylistic move," the mammon-worshipping owners say the ads will be modest – just a two-and-a-half inch patch displaying the corporate brand of, say, Bud­weis­er, Bank of America, Hooters, or Viagra. The ad size seems small, but ESPN's hi-def TV cameras will focus on them and show them to viewers hundreds of times in every game. And, of course, to squeeze ever-more cash out of each human billboard, both the owners and advertisers will steadily expand the commercial space to cover the entire uniform.

Actually, I'm not 100% opposed to ads on uniforms, for I've been saying since the first Clinton administration that presidents and Congress critters should have to put the corporate logos of their big funders on their suits, shirts, skirts, etc. so We the People can know at a glance whom they really represent. It's my Truth-in-Politics proposal – and I hope you'll push it, too.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

National Basketball Association, basketball, advertising, billboards

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