Don’t use the word Super Bowl

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More than 100 million viewers watched Super Bowl XLV, not to mention the snazzy,  eye-catching commercials.  

No doubt the Super Bowl has become a mass medium for marketers launching or building a brand.  There is a big price to pay however.  A 30-second spot during  this year’s Super Bowl costs $3 million, excluding any production costs.  Even though a risky gamble, some lesser-known marketers blow their entire budget on one Super Bowl ad hoping the opportunity will lead to big sales. 

It seems kind of oxymoronic as more eyeballs go to the internet for news, information  and entertainment, although all of the Super Bowl ads can be found on YouTube.  Good TV ads will include some kind of social media component.  Giving viewers a reason to connect with a brand during or after the ad runs is paramount for success.   

But what about the word “Super Bowl?”  It’s a phrase marketers don’t throw around lightly.  In fact, ads can’t even mention the Super Bowl without the consent of the NFL.  Football’s governing body has been extremely aggressive at protecting the Super Bowl’s brand equity.   Bars, restaurants and even large gatherings of people have to be careful of promoting any type of Super Bowl party.  

Marketers get around the issue by using words like the “big game” or “super Sunday.”  Consumers understand the connotation and advertisers do not have to pay any licensing fees for using the Super Bowl trademark. 

Is this strategy good for the NFL?  Obviously protecting one’s own brand is vital and there is enormous cache associated with the Super Bowl.  Brands translate into real dollars.  For the NFL, this means billions. So it’s no surprise the “Super Bowl” is guarded with such ferociousness.

 As another year of football winds to a close, the NFL may take a lesson from the playbook of other marketers who had to relinquish brand control to survive in today’s new media landscape.  Consumers now are the brand ambassadors participating in the daily evolution of most products or services.  While the NFL doesn’t have this problem, letting go may be one way of growing the brand even further.

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