The clutter of Football – AFL (Advertising Football League)

I am both a realist and a  romantic. How these two coexist I am not sure. I want to briefly take a look at advertising in football. I’m no expert on such matters, so I’ll try and make my point in a more visual way.

Advertising. It is here to stay, not just in football but in life, and it’s very hard to escape it. And not all advertising is evil, that’s not the path I am taking. But at times it can clutter your life.

Not so in Sao Paulo however. This city of 11 million has been without public advertising for five years now, and in a 2011 government survey it was found that 70% of its residents had found the change beneficial. Whilst the situation is not perfect, an issue I am not delving into here, the lack of “visual pollution” is said to have had a positive impact on the people. Click here to see a great before and after video.

Sao Paulo image from

Much like we Melbournians understand what it is to “meet under the clocks,” one Sao Paulo resident said that “My old reference was a big Panasonic billboard, but now my reference is an art deco building that was covered by the massive sign.”

So football. As I said, I’m a realist. Should a club nobly knock back all advertising, they would cease to be competitive and go broke quick. But when is enough, enough? There was a time when the Sherrin itself was thought to be sacred, until the Golden Arches found their way onto the leathern sphere. “Challenge on a ball? What do you think?” went the Crackers Keenan ad. Club guernseys too were once pure from advertising. Who’d have thought that Carlton, the famous old dark blues, would have colours such as red and yellow splashed over their famous old jumper? But it’s reality.

So things won’t change, but it’s also good to be aware of just how cluttered the modern game has become with advertising. New substitute rule? Subway Subs. How many Carlton Draughts has Gary Ablett had? You get the picture.

Here are two famous Carlton marks. Andrew Walker’s screamer has had up to 12 advertisements removed and to my eye now has a purity to it. And below, well I’ve just had some fun in adding some advertising to Jezza’s famous speckie!

And finally, a short visual presentation on the saturation of advertising in football today. It’s good to be aware of the “visual pollution.” Digital alterations done by mine own fair hand.

Original images from…
Andrew Walker mark –
Dustin Martin –×400.jpg
Josh Kennedy
Jezza’s mark
Lenny Hayes –

1 thought on “The clutter of Football – AFL (Advertising Football League)

  1. Very good Mr Boots. I hate the renaming of stadiums to incorporate the sponsor’s name. I have very fond memories of lining up early in the morning outside the ground and running to get a seat in the outer at Kardinya Park. When they rename the older grounds, its as though the thousands of stories and memories just like mine don’t count for anything. And that football is not something that a community can come together around, but a commodity that can be bought and sold. Its as though the AFL are actively trying to take the magic out of football.

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