Cricket advertising is set for areas never before reached, with umpires in Australia’s Big Bash League to advertise a new sponsor in their underarms.
In a groundbreaking “armpit advertising” campaign revealed on Thursday, Cricket Australia announced a commercial partnership with the Australian deodorant and antiperspirant brand Rexona.
Part of the deal requires umpires in the domestic Twenty20 competition to sport the product’s branding under their arms, which will be fully revealed to the watching world upon the signalling of a six (both arms raised, two logos revealed) or a bye (just one).
In what it claims to be a world first in sponsorship, Rexona, whose parent company is Unilever, says it has begun the process of trademarking “pit-vertising” as it seeks to find fresh space in a format of the game already awash with branding.
Players shirts are littered with sponsors’ logos, but umpires’ attire has until now been largely free of advertising. The underarm logos, which will feature the name of the product underneath its trademark tick, will be on display for the first time when the 10th season of the BBL gets under way on Thursday night with a match between the Hurricanes and Sixers in Hobart.
Twenty20 cricket is no stranger to innovation, in the game itself or the environment in which it is played, and the use of armpits for product placement is believed to be a world first in sport.
Cricket Australia said in a press release Rexona had “aligned with the BBL’s umpiring fraternity to protect them from countless hours spent in the summer heat”, although it is unclear whether umpires can be forced to wear the product themselves.
The deal is the latest in a string of commercial partnerships either renewed or acquired by Cricket Australia this year. The organisation will generate a record $70m in sponsorship this summer, despite the financial difficulties presented by the Covid pandemic.