The Swedish national hockey team is bringing advertising to its goalies’ leg pads in a pretty clever way, attaching stickers that make the pads look like Head and Shoulders shampoo bottles. Goalies Jhonas Enroth, Magnus Hellberg and Linus Söderström are set to debut these Wednesday in the team’s Karjala Cup opener against the Czech Republic, and the Swedes are set to wear these during all competitions outside the Olympics and World Championships (presumably because those tournaments have strict rules on athlete endorsements and apparel). And Enroth has said he’s perfectly fine with it.
But former Swedish goaltender turned broadcaster Mikael Tellqvist (who played in the NHL with Toronto and Phoenix, as well as in several European leagues) is highly upset. Here’s Sean Leahy’s translation of Tellqvist’s comments to Sweden’s Aftonbladet newspaper from Pro Hockey Talk:
“Three Crowns are the people’s team. Focus on the Three Crowns on the chest. Now the focus is on something else, [like] everyone who has dandruff,” said goaltender-turned-broadcaster Mikael Tellqvist. “If you have to advertise on the national [team uniform], I think there should be something that is genuine and that feels serious in some way.”
“You should hope that [Swedish Hockey Federation] get well paid and that the money goes for a good purpose, like hockey or youth hockey.”
Yes, Tellqvist has a point; hopefully the revenue here is supporting important initiatives and not just federation executives. And it is unfortunate that some of the unique look of individual goalies’ pads is being taken away by these stickers. But at the same time, arguing that this makes the focus on “everyone who has dandruff” is pretty hilarious. And yes, the pads will get some looks at first (especially considering how well-designed these stickers are, and how they’re carefully placed to make the white pads look just like the goalies are wearing actual shampoo bottles), but it seems unlikely too many will be upset enough to not watch or support the team just because they don’t like the advertising. Here’s a closer look at the pads:
With jersey ads already tested during the World Cup of Hockey, it seems likely we’re going to see more and more of this down the road in hockey. Will there be some backlash? Sure. But to stop this train, the backlash is going to have to cost hockey more than it would make in advertising. That doesn’t seem too probable at the moment, unless there are many who plan to get as upset as Tellqvist is here. Shampoo bottle pads may be just the start.