Some Dos and Don’ts of Super Bowl Marketing

January 31, 2020

It’s almost here! The country’s biggest sporting event and the most-watched event in American homes. Heck, millions of non-football fans tune in to the Super Bowl to catch the $5 million 30-second commercials and the big halftime show. Spending during last year’s event was said to exceed $15 billion. As Super Bowl LIV approaches, let’s look at the dos and don’ts of marketing around the football event of the year.

DON’T:

The first, and foremost, is DO NOT, under any circumstances, say “Super Bowl” in your marketing unless you are an official sponsor of the game. The NFL is notoriously zealous about defending its brand, going after organizations big and small who run afoul of the league’s trademarked moniker. And the league has the monetary edge in just about any matchup against an entity that would dare challenge them. You can’t even use “Super Sunday” – that’s trademarked too. If you’re wondering, we can say “Super Bowl” here because we’re not selling goods or services in relation to the game.

DO:

Don’t get us wrong, it’s ok to market around the event, but using the trademarked Super Bowl moniker could falsely imply sponsorship. The most popular “Super Bowl” substitute is “The Big Game,” which seems, frankly, less super in comparison, and also refers to a longstanding college gridiron rivalry.  But it works. Other alternative nicknames include “Sunday’s Game,” “Game Day,” and “The Big Showdown.”

DON’T:

Use the official, copyrighted Super Bowl logo in relation to your marketing around the big game. This goes hand-in-hand with the first don’t. This don’t extends to using images of the Vince Lombardi tropy, team logos, team helmet logs, player names and player images.

DO:

Use generic football imagery to promote The Big Game. You can also feature imagery of food, family and friends—the holy trinity of “f’s” related to the Super Bowl.

DON’T:

Spend $5 million on a 30-second spot during the game. This is a no-brainer that applies to the 99% of companies that don’t have the financial leverage to drop such an exorbitant sum. The typical roster of companies advertising in the Super Bowl includes a who’s who from the Fortune 500 list. This year’s participating brands include Facebook, Google, Snickers, Heinz, Budweiser, and Procter & Gamble. Notice that local shops like Bob’s Lightbulbs aren’t on that list.

DO:

Run your own digital campaign leading up to The Big Game. Producing a mock Super Bowl commercial featuring your own employees can be a fun way to get in on the action without spending big bucks. You can also create an interactive social media series that includes interesting Super Bowl facts, giveaways or sweepstakes.

DON’T:

Get too granular on the football aspect of the game if your audience isn’t made up of hardcore football fans. For instance, if you’re a perfume or flower company, it’s probably not a great idea to go into too much detail about the teams and players.

DO:

 Target people who aren’t watching the game. Sponsor an event that is unrelated to football to give a place for non-football fans to get together and feel included. Puppy Bowl is an ingenious program conceived by Animal Planet that targets animal-lovers who don’t necessarily love football. Last year, Puppy Bowl scored its highest ratings ever earning over 3 million viewers.

Don’t have a $5 million+ ad spot during the Super Bowl broadcast? That’s ok—you can follow these steps to effective Super Bowl marketing.

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