For the last five years, I have posted guidelines about engaging in or accepting advertising or promotions that directly or indirectly reference the Super Bowl without a license from the NFL. As hard as it may be to believe, the NFL has almost made its way this season to another championship game, so here is an updated version of my prior posts.
The Super Bowl means big bucks. It is estimated that each of the three television networks that broadcasts the Super Bowl pays the NFL over $1 billion per year for the right to broadcast NFL games through 2022, including the right to broadcast the big game on a rotating basis once every three years. The investment seems to pay off for the networks. Reportedly, it cost $5.6 M for a 30-second spot during last year’s Super Bowl broadcast and national advertising revenue totaled $448.7 M, not counting income from ads during any pre-game or post-game programming. (In addition to the sums paid to have their commercials aired, some advertisers spend millions of dollars to produce an ad.) In addition, the NFL receives hundreds of millions of dollars from licensing the use of the SUPER BOWL trademark and logo.
Given the value of the Super Bowl franchise, it is not surprising that the NFL is extremely aggressive in protecting its golden goose from anything it views as unauthorized efforts to trade off the goodwill associated with the mark or the game. Accordingly, with the coin toss almost upon us, advertisers should take special care before publishing or engaging in advertising or other promotional activities that refer to the Super Bowl. Broadcasters and news publishers have greater latitude than other businesses, but still need to be wary of engaging in activities that the NFL may view as trademark or copyright infringement. (These risks also apply to other named sporting events, for example, making use of the terms “Final Four” or “March Madness” in connection with the annual NCAA Basketball Tournament.)
Continue Reading Stay A Lot More Than Six Feet From The NFL’s Trademarks! 2021 Update on Super Bowl Advertising and Promotions