Your Game-Day, Sunday, Big Game IP Special Column

January 31, 2014

Super Bowl CopyrightSo, I guess there’s this thing called “The Super Bowl” this weekend. Apparently, it’s a football game? I wouldn’t know.

Actually, I should stop playing dumb. Even people like me who don’t like football watch the Super Bowl because it’s an event. The halftime show is a pop-culture highlight (Hi, Beyonce!) and the ads are an experience in and of themselves.

What’s interesting to me is how jealously the NFL guards the Super Bowl brand (I would, too. It’s worth an estimated $470 million). It’s protective of it to the point that it rarely allows companies to use the copyrighted phrase “Super Bowl.”  This is why you see a lot of ads that try to capitalize on the popularity of the game while tap-dancing around the actual phrase “Super Bowl.” It’s not a Super Bowl special, it’s a Game Day special; the offer is valid only on Sunday, not “Super Bowl Sunday.”

(Anna Kendrick’s somewhat amusing spot for Newcastle pokes fun at this.)

Now, I would think that if an organization were as restrictive with its copyright as the NFL is, advertisers would say “Forget it” and just walk away.

Obviously, that isn’t what happens.

A 30-second spot at this year’s Super Bowl is estimated to cost about $4 million, and big-name advertisers like Pepsi, Anheuser-Busch, Disney and Volkswagen have all signed up.

That’s an illustration of two things.

  • First, people love the Super Bowl, and that gives the NFL serious control over its advertiser. Don’t like our terms? That’s too bad. Now, step aside, please, so that any of the several companies behind you can sign on the dotted line.
  • Second, that is one seriously valuable copyright.