The Super Bowl is quickly approaching and many marketers use this key moment to promote their product or service — even if it’s on a smaller scale than an ad spot. If you are a content creator for a brand (or your own blog), chances are that you’ve already done or have thought about doing this. But before you hit “publish,” 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. The NFL considers any commercial activity that uses the term “Super Bowl” to be in violation. And don’t underestimate how seriously they take this. 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? Because 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. And frankly, it would be hard to rationalize $7 million for a 30-second spot if everyone was able to use the game and trademarked terms casually for advertising purposes.
“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. Same goes for the organization’s logo and team logos.
With that being said, every content creator should be aware of this list of Super Bowl advertising guidelines.
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
Also be aware that a disclosure such as “Not an Official Sponsor of the Super Bowl” or even referencing that your event/ad is not licensed or authorized by the NFL won’t necessarily give you a free pass or ward off a cease-and-desist letter.
Note: The above Super Bowl advertising guidelines are for promotional materials and ads, and not necessary if you are creating unbranded and unsponsored content. Journalists are also obviously permitted to use NFL marks and terms such as Super Bowl when reporting.
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