I know product placement is a good marketing technique used in almost every sports, but

  1. When was the product placement introduced in sports?

  2. Which was the first sport introduced product placement?

  3. Why not separate ads rather than product placement?

  • 4
    The picture shows branding and sponsoring rather than product placement. Product placement would be if you had one or more members of the team smoking their Marlboro's. A good example of product placement would be Gatorade coolers on the sidelines, or drivers drinking their Coca-Cola in victory lane.
    – Chad
    Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 17:16
  • @Chad,Accepted!! Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 14:33

1 Answer 1


The first sportsman could be considered to be the Arenas of the Roman Empire. Merchants and Nobles would sponsor gladiators or fights to help enhance their standing.

Modern advertising known as branding evolved in the 1800's and I would suspect that sporting events were quickly identified as targets for this marketing strategy. Early teams in professional baseball and american football were sponsored by companies. The Chicago bears started out as the Decatur Staleys in 1919.

A. E. Staley was a Decatur, Illinois based processor of corn founded in 1898 - Source

Update after question edit: The earliest product placement I can find would be the tobacco companies providing their products to Professional baseball players as early as the 1870. American Tobacco Company included some of the first baseball cards with some of their products. Honus Wagner was a superstar of the day and made quite a fuss as he was against the use of tobbacco products and refused to allow his name and picture to be used to promote the product.

Other Notes:

Jesse Owens received free shoes in the 1936 Berlin Olympics from Adidas


The 1970s included several important evolutionary events in sports marketing. Sponsorships of products by athletes emerged as a trend. Joe Namath became a sex symbol and used that image to sell pantyhose, of all things. By the end of the decade the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle "Mean" Joe Green starred in one of the most acclaimed advertisements ever for Coke.

  • Naming the whole team after a company? That's crazy. Nobody would do that nowadays. Except maybe the New York Red Bulls. Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 14:55
  • 1
    @MichaelMyers The Green Bay Packers owe their name to the Indian Packing Company.
    – corsiKa
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 22:34
  • Or the team in the Welsh Premier League known as "Total Network Solutions F.C"
    – Ste
    Commented May 27, 2012 at 19:17

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