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Annual Reminder: Don't Use 'Super Bowl'


By Ken Magill

If you’re a long-time avid reader of the Magill Report, you may know I publish this warning every year. If you do: First, thank you for your readership. I am honored that you would part with some of your most valuable asset—your time—to read this newsletter.

Second, is time flying by or what? It seems like yesterday I last published this reminder. And in no time we’ll be swapping email marketing stories in an old-folks’ home while eating pureed meals and swilling whatever alcoholic beverages we’re allowed to have.

I have told the wife I really don’t care where she puts me as long as I can spend my waning days soused. Think about it: At that stage in our lives we can pee ourselves and no one will think anything of it.

I plan to make full use of that privilege.

But I digress. Every year a bunch of marketers put the words “Super Bowl” in their promotions and every year, the NFL sends out a bunch of cease and desist letters.

Why? Because sponsors pay a lot of money to be associated with the NFL and the NFL wants to prevent unauthorized marketers from diluting that association’s value for paid advertisers.

The NFL is so territorial it even tried to trademark “The Big Game” but gave up in 2007 after Stanford University and UC Berkeley pointed out their annual football matchup has been referred to as such since 1902.

Here is what I’ve been able to cobble together from various sources: Without the clear permission of the NFL, broadcasters and other media may not use the following terms or images in their promotions:

"Super Bowl"
"Super Sunday"
The Super Bowl logo
"NFL," "AFC" or "NFC"
"The National Football League"
"American Football Conference"
"National Football Conference"
Any team name or nickname

Marketers may use the following terms and information in their promotions without the NFL's permission:

"The Big Game"
"The Professional Football Championship Game"
The date of the game
The names of the two competing cities, as long as the team names are not mentioned
Any statement mocking the fact that the NFL doesn't allow the media to use any of the forbidden terms.


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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: kirk
Date: 2014-01-29 07:18:43
Subject: another one to watch out for

At a previous employer, my director asked me to run a subject line for a campaign whose idea was "wrestling with choice a or b", the subject line she wanted was "Get ready to rumble...with savings"... 2 days after deployment we got a nastygram from WWE... So you can add that to your list of "topics and words" that get your hands slapped. lol