February 3, 2017 | Maddalena Rinaldi

With America’s biggest night in sport less than a week away from touching down, companies must be cautious to avoid using the words ‘Super Bowl’ in their advertising campaigns unless they have paid a hefty price.  Why you ask?  Well, the National Football League trademarked the term almost 50 years ago, back in 1969, and has since become one of the most lucrative sporting leagues on the planet.

The annual championship game of American football is watched by millions of Americans and is televised all over the world.  The abundance of viewers and stringent regulations lead to an expensive advertising price tag.  According to USA Today, television network CBS charged approximately $5 million for a 30 second ad spot in 2016.

If companies use the term for financial gain without permission, they will quickly find themselves in legal trouble.  The NFL do not take the issue lightly, as according to sporting website SB Nation, a cease and desist letter was handed to a church in 2007 for selling tickets to a Super Bowl party.

Instances of companies avoiding the term are easy to spot.  In a 2015 tweet by Nike San Francisco promoting team merchandise, the event was referred to as ‘The Big Game’, whilst Delta Airlines referred to it as the ‘Pro Football Championship’.

The decision to trademark the term years ago has helped lead to enormous advertising revenue for the National Football League year after year, demonstrating the vital importance of protecting your intellectual property.


Credit: Daniel Abdallah