NFL Forces Photographers to Wear Product LogosI was a little aghast when I heard an earlier version of this story. According to newspaper trade publication Editor and Publisher, the National Football League insists that working photojournalists documenting games must wear read vests that have logos for two product companies: Canon and Reebok.
The National Press Photographers Association has been protesting the action, but apparently not all that loudly:
"The NFL says there are no plans to add additional logos to the vests, or to increase the size of the marks, and that they think the Reebok and Canon logos are appropriate because the vests are made by Reebok and because Canon ‘has made the commitment to fund the cost of the vest,’" NPPA reported on its Web site after receiving the letter from NFL vice president of public relations Greg Aiello, which added that "Both logos are directly related to the manufacture of the vest. Given this, it is inaccurate to characterize them as advertising messages sold to NFL sponsors or others."Not advertising messages? So they paid for the vests - but I wonder did they pay the actual cost, or did the NFL manager to eke out a few extra dollars of profit doing this?
As for saying that it's not advertising, oh, please. Who do they think they are fooling? The logos are there to be seen, and that means it's part of the marketing of the two companies. No plans to add logos? I'm sure that's true - at the moment, though I wonder if they asked whether the NFL might add logos in the future.
It was disappoiting to hear that this practice isn't all that unusual, and that in other sports photographers routinely have to be promotional billboards when they're supposed to be acting as journalists. One might wonder what woudl happen if a publication had a story that was unfavorable to one of the non-sponsors.