And, no, this isn’t a Harry Potter reference. I’m actually talking football. And, this Sunday, it’s the BIG GAME or the celebration of the SUPERB OWL.

Wait, your advertising Super Bowl specials? Did you pay to do that?

As someone who works with events and sponsors, many companies are paying BIG MONEY to be the official sponsor of the Super Bowl. Those companies are hoping to soak up the brand association, further activating their sponsorship with ads, in-arena or ancillary event promotions, and more.

And if you don’t have their permission? You’re considered in violation of their trademark rights.

Homer Simpson and friends inside Super Bowl Jail. (c) The Simpsons & Fox(c) Fox – The Simpsons. Homer and his friends are actually in Super Bowl Jail.

In 2007, the NFL went after a church group advertising a Super Bowl party that charged $3-per-person to cover the cost of snacks. They did back off after some backlash, but there is a reason that they want to ensure that their trademarks are respected and their value is not diluted.

Apple’s deal to be the Super Bowl halftime sponsor is worth roughly $50 million per year. On at the “smaller end”, City of Glendale paid $1 million to be a sponsor of last year’s Super Bowl.

There’s a lot of money at stake.

At one time, Budweiser was paying $250 million on a large contract that included category exclusivity for advertising. They have since pulled back on this sponsorship.

What’s the harm in saying Super Bowl? There can be an implied relationship when you use the name of an event. A “Super Bowl Sale” could be considered to be endorsed by the NFL / Super Bowl. Of course, there is a cash value to that.

The NFL is not the only organization that does. The NCAA with its March Madness trademark, the Olympics and their rings. There is big money in sponsorships, and these organizations will enforce their intellectual property.

So, what’s the deal with the owl?

Many companies use work arounds, such as talking about the BIG GAME. And, back in 2014, Steven Colbert talked about just moving the B from Super Bowl to get Superb Owl. That, or just add flights to your schedule with 1989 and 87.

Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report talking about the Superb Owl

With all that, and the fact that there’s easy workarounds, it’s risky to talk about the Super Bowl when associating it with a commercial product. It’s not worth it.

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