textile burden

textile burden

These temporary tattoos designed as a pace-keeping device (that is, for metering time) were available for free at the Chicago Marathon courtesy of Nike and the swoosh logo — but only if the runner had their race bib barcode scanned first.


"Doesn't it make sense for the referee to just scan a bar code on the player's uniform to register an infraction?"

(sportsbabel, january 2005)


"The 'closer' the skin of spectacle is to the animal body proper, the more virile the transmission."

(sportsbabel, september 2010)


"The extended skin of the athletic uniform is sponsored; the actual skin may become sponsored as well (tattoos representing gambling or casino web sites?); and professional sports teams have insured various athlete body parts to minimize investment risk. Now I am wondering about a related, but slightly different proposition: What if the intellectual property under consideration was DNA?"

(sportsbabel, march 2008)


Regarding the cultural production of America through sport: who predicted that NASCAR would end up most visibly proclaiming its diversity?

Logos courtesy of their respective leagues

No Logo

The leading scorer of the Arkansas State men's basketball team is sitting out because he refuses to wear adidas shoes, which Indians players are obligated to wear as part of a school contract.


What is dangerous in this scenario, however, is that we currently have very little control over the evolution of [the language of logos]. Copyright and trademark law essentially prevent us, via the threat of (legal) force, from attaching any meaning of our own to a particular logo. This is radically different from the usual evolution of a language through common usage of words and phrases; what was once a public good has reversed into a medium of private ownership.

In this case, Jerry Nichols wasn't even trying to attach his own meaning to the adidas logo. Rather, he was asking for the right not to speak — that is, not to communicate the controlled adidas language with his extended skin. And for health reasons, no less.

Glyph Equity and Brand Transference

Do you remember when Nike changed its logo by removing the "NIKE" text from below the swoosh glyph? I do. The first time I saw it was at the end of a Nike TV commercial and I was completely blown away. Basically they were saying "Look, we know that you know who we are. We are so confident in our brand and our swoosh glyph that we are going to remove our company's name from our advertising — because we know that you know who we are." That was a pretty bold statement, as few other corporate glyphs have that type of recognition without the accompanying text that makes the logo complete. The golden arches of McDonald's and the apple-sans-bite of Apple Computer are two comparable glyphs that come to mind.

Today, the brand landscape is changing even more. Nike has invested enough money in the "meaning" associated with their glyph that subsequent sport sponsorship only serves two purposes: first, to refresh that meaning from time to time, but perhaps more importantly, to defensively prevent adidas or Reebok from developing the same amount of glyph equity. At this point, there is no way that as many people would recognize the adidas or Reebok logos if the corporate text was not also attached to the glyph.

So while Nike is using sponsorship in this context, perhaps they are also attempting to pioneer a step in the branding process beyond brand loyalty, which we can call brand mark transference. That is, how much impact can the Nike brand have on the Jumpman or LeBron23 brands?

Companies in other segments hope that the answer is significant and in the positive. "All advertising advertises advertising," Marshall McLuhan noted, so when NBC Sports points out that Tiger Woods shills for Nike even while he appears in commercials for other sponsors, those sponsors hope that there is simultaneously a brand transference factor working in their favour.

Experiments in Logos: Mirror, Surveillance, Cyborg

All logos are copyright their respective owners and displayed here under fair use.

Experiments in Logos: The Deification of LeBron

All images are copyright their respective owners and appear here under fair use.