NFL: Photo Vests With Ads Are Nothing New

By: Joe Strupp

Claiming that advertising on photographer vests at sporting events is nothing new, a National Football League spokesman responded to critics of a new policy requiring such vests for the upcoming season, saying similar requirements elsewhere have not sparked such complaints.

“This is consistent with other sporting events,” said Brian McCarthy, who commented after the NFL received critical letters from two major editors groups, and days after word of the new policy sparked concerns among photographers. “We’ve had this type of vest in the past with Super Bowls without any concern and they have worn it.”

McCarthy also cited recent examples of photographers sporting such vests at the WNBA All-Star Game, numerous Olympic Games, and college football bowl games. He even e-mailed a photo of the paparazzi surrounding David Beckham, the European soccer star now playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy, at his debut with much of the media sporting AT&T-laden vests.

“The logos themselves are small, non-intrusive and they won’t be seen on game day by fans at home,” McCarthy said of the NFL version, which has been criticized for having logos of Reebok and Canon. “It is not a media exposure play.”

McCarthy said the vests have a Reebok logo because that company made them, while the Canon logo is part of “a partnership with Canon” that is “common in sports throughout the world.”

“It was part of a sideline media access policy to further identify media with a working function,” McCarthy said of the new requirement. “We would hear from photographers and other sideline personnel that when there was a [security] sweep of the sideline during games they would be misidentified.” He said some complained of being bothered to take out their credentials and show them to security.

Under this policy, McCarthy contends, simply wearing the vests is enough proof that the photographer belongs. “This enables security to look and know the right people are on the field,” he said. “We know that it was different from what was done in the past. But we have heard from other organizations that don’t have a problem with it.” He declined to name those organizations.

Organizations that have had a problem with it include the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Associated Press Managing Editors and the National Press Photographers Association. APME and ASNE today revealed letters they had written to the league criticizing the policy.

“We’re continuing to work with those groups,” McCarthy said in response to the complaints, but declined to elaborate on those specific letters.


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