Planning a Super Bowl or Olympics themed marketing campaign? Quick Tips for Staying Within Limits and Avoiding Disqualification | Foster GarveyPC
As the Super Bowl approaches, it’s important for brands looking to leverage football-themed promotions to remember that the terms “Super Bowl” and “Super Sunday” are trademarks protected by National Football. League (NFL) closer than a corner stopper on a wide receiver.
‘Cause there’s a fine line between what’s allowed fair Super Bowl and Super Sunday uses (for example, in on-air jokes and news and sports coverage) and inadmissible promotional uses that may infringe the NFL Trademark, here are some guidelines to keep you from going “offside:”
- Avoid promotional association. Do not mention the Super Bowl or use the Super Bowl logo in your advertisements, social media posts, labeling or packaging in such a way that the viewer, listener or consumers could infer a relationship between your brand or your food or beverage products and the NFL that doesn’t exist. Unless you obtain a license from the NFL, you may not use any such advertising. For example, you can’t say “Your favorite Super Bowl drink” or even “We’ve got all your Super Bowl party needs.”
- Additional Prohibited Words and Logos. In addition to “Super Bowl” and “Super Sunday”, do not mention or use the logo of “NFL”, “AFC”, “NFC”, “National Football League”, “American Football Conference” or “National Conference Football.”
- Educate advertisers and marketing companies. Your advertisers or marketing vendors may want to run Super Bowl-related promotional events, like the “XYZ Super Sunday Sweepstakes.” Tell your vendors that the NFL is likely to send you and them a nastygram (at a minimum) if they commercially associate your brand or productions with big game.
- Be careful with events. Don’t use the Super Bowl or Super Sunday name to sponsor or promote game day events, such as “XYZ’s Super Bowl Party.”
- Apply the same caution to teams. All NFL team names (for example“Bengals”, “Chiefs”, etc) and nicknames (and logos), such as “Super Bowl”, are trademarked, so the same considerations of avoiding promotional association apply. Even the use of team colors could draw the ire of the NFL.
Some creative ways brands have tried to keep both feet in their promotions include using statements such as “The Big Game”, “The Big One”, “Gameday”, “Gametime”, “The Big Matchup” , “Football’s Favorite”. Day”; referring to the date of the match (for example“The February Football Finale”), the names of the cities/states of the teams participating in the Super Bowl (for example, “Cincinnati” or “Kansas City”); or make fun of the fact that they are forbidden to mention “Super Bowl” (for examplebeeping it or saying “the game that won’t be mentioned”).
The Super Bowl isn’t the only sporting event around the corner that presents marketing opportunities for brands. The 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games from February 4and and March 4and, respectively, create an international stage for top athletes and marketing campaigns. Like the NFL, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) have strict rules and guidelines for the use of its trademarks, name, and other intellectual property. The IOC and USOPC sell sponsorships and licenses to use their intellectual property. The key to a gold medal marketing campaign is to avoid using the well-known symbol of five interlocking circles, the Olympic motto “Faster, higher, stronger”, the term “Olympic” , “Olympian” or “Beijing”. 2022.” Use of these symbols, or any other IOC or USOPC intellectual property or indicia, without a license will almost inevitably result in cease and desist letters, and even possible statutory and civilians. Brands can avoid the slippery slope of Olympic marketing mistakes by forgoing any IOC and/or USOPC affiliation or sponsorship, acknowledging that certain names, logos and marks may be prohibited without a license, and ensuring the appropriate use of any third party intellectual property.
Remember that advertisers literally pay millions of dollars to be associated with the Super Bowl, the Olympics and the Paralympics. Their willingness to pay reflects the substantial commercial goodwill that the NFL, IOC and USOPC have developed. The NFL, IOC and USOPC constantly protect their investments by monitoring unauthorized use of their marks.