Eddie Gaven's iconic beard just might have to go.
The Columbus Crew and Perio, Inc. announced a major, long-term partnership on Wednesday that positions the Barbasol brand as the new jersey partner for the Crew, starting this season. Through the strategic partnership, the Barbasol wordmark will have prominent placement on the front of all Crew jerseys. Per club policy, financial terms of the five-year deal were not disclosed.
All Crew jerseys – game, retail and youth – along with practice jerseys, will be emblazoned with the Barbasol mark. The Crew’s newly designed jerseys will be updated to include Barbasol and marketed by Major League Soccer’s official supplier adidas. They are expected to be available at retail establishments in March.
“On behalf of the entire Crew organization, I am extremely pleased to welcome Barbasol to our family of corporate and community partners,” Crew president and general manager Mark McCullers said in a statement. “Barbasol is a well-known, well-respected brand, and we are proud that it will adorn the front of our jerseys for years to come.”
The partnership also designates Barbasol as the “Official Shaving Cream of the Columbus Crew” and includes field-level LED signage and TV, radio and print advertising, among other assets. Barbasol will also market select cans of Barbasol product featuring the Crew logo within the central Ohio region.
“MLS jersey sponsorship is such a unique opportunity in major-league sports and Barbasol is proud and honored to partner with a championship team and organization like the Crew,” Perio, Inc. president and CEO Thomas J. Murray said in a statement. “Barbasol has a long tradition of connecting with sports, from the early days of Babe Ruth and Knute Rockne to today with partners like ESPN, the Big Ten Network and personalities like Boomer Esiason, Jimmy Jackson, Mike & Mike and Louie Vito. Now we feel like we are bringing America’s shaving cream to America’s Hardest Working Team.”
Prior to 2007, MLS jersey sponsorships were limited to smaller placements on the backs and sleeves and only through national advertising packages. But starting that year, MLS clubs have been able to market advertising space on the front of their team jerseys, where it is more visible and more traditional internationally.
Gaven is perhaps the club's most recognizable player, partly because he boasts a full beard on a regular basis. Forward Tommy Heinemann also typically boasts a beard, as has midfielder Danny O'Rourke and goalkeeper William Hesmer.
Barbasol becomes the Crew's second jersey sponsor, after paint manufacturer Glidden sponsored the jersey from 2008 until they decided not to renew their contract in January 2011.