Mark Cuban’s uniform contest and devaluing the value of his team’s fanbase

Mark Cuban may be one of the smartest owners in sports, but his latest move has gotten some fans questioning his morals.

If you haven’t heard the story, Mark Cuban is sourcing the Mavericks fans for ideas on a new uniform design. This isn’t uncommon in sports and it’s a pretty great way to get the fans involved. The only problem with this promotion is that Cuban isn’t giving much of a compensation for the design that ends up being chosen.

Here are his rules for the contest.

Who will own your design ? The minute you post it, the Mavs will. If you think its horrible that the Mavs own your design. Do not post. If you think its cool that the Mavs could possibly use your design and you will have eternal bragging rights , then post away. If we really like your design and you , I may even throw in some tickets. If we don’t use your design, it will still be here on this site for now and ever more for you to glance longingly at. If your design is close , if not identical to other designs and we pick one of the other designs, for whatever reason, then thats just the way it goes.

The easy argument is that if you submit the design, you know what you’re getting into. And I agree with that. Designers struggle to get recognized in the business and they have to pick and choose their opportunities. Despite the chance to design an international brand, the lack of compensation might not be worth the time and effort.

The Mavericks once asked P. Diddy to design their uniform. The rapper gave them this.

The rules Cuban set forth are quite simple. Once a design is submitted, it’s the team’s property and whether it’s used or not is up to the team. No compensation even if the design submitted is similar to another design that wins.

(** The Brewers had a similar contest and their prize held much more value than what Cuban is offering. Plus, the Brewers set was only used for two exhibition games. The Mavericks plan to use this during the regular season.)

And with that, there’s a debate as to whether or not the fans should participate in this. After all, Cuban knows what he’s getting himself into.

There’s a point that must not be forgotten however. Uniforms aren’t just an outfit the team wears. It represents much more than that, Jerry Seinfeld.

The team’s name, logo and uniform are part of a brand. Like many companies, the way they are presented is very important. And with the NBA now as an international identity, the value of the team’s look is bigger. With that in mind, a new logo and uniform change means a lot to many companies involved.

Not only does the team have to prepare itself for the rebrand, they have to put together press releases, a reveal event and fixing up all advertisements that previously used the old look. Adidas will also have to be notified of the change and work with the Mavericks to make sure all the jerseys and outfits match the new design.

The Mavericks’ recent uniform history hasn’t always been smooth. They’ve changed alternates many times over the years, including this one-time mistake.

Along with Adidas, all major companies that have contract with NBA merchandising will also have to revamp their designs to fit with the new look. That will lead to a bigger hype for the team, which will bump up the team’s merchandise sales.

For someone to design a uniform that has that kind of domino effect, surely they should be compensated fairly. But Cuban doesn’t care. A pair of tickets seems to be enough for someone whose work will net Cuban more money.

A fresh new rebrand leads to merchandise sales, more fan attention and a boost in Cuban’s own branding. And his way of saying thank you? A pair of tickets that he gets for free.

The fanbase aren’t expendable despite what it may appear. They spend their hard-earned money and time investing into the team. They care about the team. They bring in revenue for the Mavericks. Cuban, sadly, doesn’t see that. By not understanding the fans’ value, his contest has taken a negative turn.

It’s not like Cuban doesn’t have the money for it. But not giving the winning designer a piece of the pie that will help Cuban’s team gain more money is bad for business. I’m surprised that Cuban doesn’t see that, being that he’s a very smart businessman. He’s not treating his consumers right.

This was a great opportunity for Cuban to make the fans feel more part of the team and community. But instead, Cuban took the wrong approach.

A very intelligent discussion on this is on my Facebook page. Chime in if you like.

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Changes have been made so much, sometimes you can’t even remember which uniforms have been retired and which ones are still in use.

Only one uniform in this photo is still used by the Mavericks. This photo was take in 2009.

For a look at the Mavericks uniform history, check out their page on NBA.com.

3 thoughts on “Mark Cuban’s uniform contest and devaluing the value of his team’s fanbase

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