It won’t be long before more than 100 million Americans will gather around their televisions with family, friends and delicious food and snacks to watch two teams compete in the nation’s pro football championship game.
That’s right, Super Bowl LIII is quickly approaching! And as party hosts prepare, so are advertisers. Brands like Kraft-Heinz, Olay and Bumble are shelling out $5 million for 30 second commercial spots, which are always anxiously anticipated by viewers.
But those brands aren’t the only ones using the championship game in their marketing efforts. Many other marketers use this key moment to promote their product or service — even if it’s on a smaller scale. If you are a content creator for a brand (even your own blog), chances are that you’ve already done this or have thought about doing this. But before you hit “publish” on that Facebook post promo, make sure you read up on the do’s and don’ts of marketing around the “Big Game!”
Super Bowl Advertising Guidelines: What Exactly is Trademark Protected?
You may have noticed, even the viral Super Bowl commercials typically have a football theme, but don’t actually say the name of the event. That’s because the National Football League (NFL) trademarked the phrase “Super Bowl” back in 1969. Any commercial activity that uses the term Super Bowl is considered a violation, and the NFL has been known to take this seriously. In the past, they haven’t hesitated to send cease-and-desist letters to businesses and even churches who used their name to promote events and services.
Why? Quite simply, the NFL strictly enforces these trademark laws in order to prevent confusion among its sponsors; they want to eliminate any false conception that something could be associated or sponsored by their organization.
“Super Bowl” isn’t the only term that the NFL has trademarked. Other phrases like “Super Sunday,” “Gameday,” “Back to Football,” “1st and GOAL” are all protected, along with the organization’s logo and team logos.
With that being said, here is a quick list of Super Bowl advertising guidelines that every brand marketer should know.
Super Bowl Advertising Guidelines: The Don’ts
Whether you’re writing campaign messaging, creating promotional materials, boosting your brand’s social media posts or coordinating a giveaway, make sure to adhere to these guidelines:
- Do not use the words Super Bowl or Super Sunday
- Avoid using the specific team names
- Stay away from incorporating the NFL logo or team logos within your creative materials
- Do not use a football player’s name
Note: The above Super Bowl advertising guidelines are for promotional materials and ads, and not necessary if you are creating unbranded and unsponsored content.
Super Bowl Advertising Guidelines: So What CAN I Say?
- You can say The Big Game or Big Game
- Stick to general football terms
- For design, stick to generic football shapes and themes
- If you are mentioning a player, you may use his number
- To be on the extra safe side, you can add a disclosure along the lines of, “Not an official Sponsor of the NFL.”