by Rick Winterson
As you know, General Electric (GE) has opted to relocate its head office from Connecticut to South Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood. GE has submitted preliminary designs for their new headquarters building on Fort Point Channel, and they’ve begun relocating key personnel to their temporary headquarters on Farnsworth Street.
Last spring, the Board of Directors of the National Basketball Association (the NBA) approved the use of corporate logos on the uniforms of any NBA teams that choose to do so. The Celtics announced their desire to join forces with a reputable corporation for this purpose, preferably a corporation with strong, identifiable ties to the City of Boston. They began to search for such a partner.
Last Wednesday, January 25, GE held a news conference in their Farnsworth Street facility. Its purpose was to announce a partnership between themselves and the storied Boston Celtics, Boston’s leading all-time championship team (17 banners hang from the Garden’s rafters). The news conference was led by Linda Boff, GE’s Chief Marketing Officer; Celtics President Rich Gotham and Co-Owners Steve Pagliuca and Wyc Grousbeck were on hand.
A multi-year partnership between GE and the Celts has been formed. The Celtics uniform jerseys – both white (for home games) and green (away) – would sport an emblem on their left shoulder straps. The emblem is the GE logo, a two-inch, green-and-white power wheel that encircles both of the cursive “GE” letters.
Linda Boff started the news conference by emphasizing that two iconic brand names – both known globally – are joining forces. The use of the GE logo on the Celtics uniform shoulder strap is a revenue generator, of course. But GE brings a lot more than that to this partnership. It’s called “data and analytics”, a phrase that covers detailed, highly accurate numerical measurement and assessment of Celtics conditioning, including the machines they use and the exercises they do. Boff made reference to the existing involvement that GE has with the quadrennial Olympic Games, and she repeated GE’s aim to become an integral part of the City of Boston.
There is some corporate precedent in Boston for this type of partnership. Certainly, P&G/Gillette is well known for its athletic involvement, going all the way back its boxing bout sponsorship in the 40s and 50s. And key local sports facilities are named for corporations, including the TD (Bank) Garden and of course, Foxboro’s Gillette Stadium. Suffice to say that what the Celts’ wear won’t resemble racetrack uniforms, which look like the wearer fell into a labeling machine.
There are at least a couple of coincidences worth mentioning here. GE not only joins Gillette as a key sponsor of Boston’s dynamic sports scene, it also will be constructing its new headquarters building on what was originally Gillette property along NECCo Street and Way. How’s that for continuing a corporate tradition in Fort Point? And the number 17 you see on the Celtics jerseys pictured above is also the number (long since retired to the Garden rafters) of John Havlicek, the Celtics’ all-time scoring leader. He scored 26,395 points during his career with the Celts, all in games played before the three-point field goal was permitted. Paul Pierce was No. 2 at 24,026. Will Isaiah Thomas top them both? Stay tuned!