Super-Bull – 2014 edition

I’m posting this year’s Super Bull post early because it seems that companies who are not official sponsors of “the Big Game”  (that’s the Super Bowl if you didn’t know) are getting an early start on publishing cute references to the Super Bowl.

I won’t re-hash the legal issues and ridiculousness of it all, you can find that on many other blogs, including this one:

So, I’ll just present this year’s example, brought to you by my Dad, who received this e-mail from PayPal:

You really could name it if you wanted to...
You really could name it if you wanted to…

Ok, ha-ha.  But I wonder if companies are just having fun with the absurdity of it at this point.  Does PayPal honestly believe that it cannot use the Super Bowl mark descriptively?  When people run contests to win an Apple iPad, they don’t feel compelled to advertise it with, “Win a device made by a company that’s named after a fruit and makes a rectangular thing with a screen and buttons.”

Just make a conspicuous disclaimer that the contest isn’t endorsed, sponsored, approved, blessed, baptized, or otherwise supported by the NFL.  Then, let the catharsis begin – just call it the damn Super Bowl.  [CONSPICUOUS DISCLAIMER – that’s not legal advice.  If you do that, the NFL may sue you.]

Even the fine-print rules of the contest don’t call the prize for what it is – a trip to the Super Bowl:

Pssssst....  you win a trip to the Super Bowl.  That's what is happening on that day, time, and location.
Pssssst…. you win a trip to the Super Bowl. That’s what is happening on that day, time, and location.

And don’t even get me started on the NFL’s attempt to register “THE BIG GAME” as a trademark a few years ago.  It later abandoned the application, but in doing so it admitted that it was trying to prevent “ambush marketing” of the Super Bowl by using “The Big Game” instead.  With that logic, expect a trademark application for “The game we cannot name” to be in the works…  Intellectual property attorneys are usually safe from lawyer jokes, but not in this case.

National FirstAmendment Losers.

2 thoughts on “Super-Bull – 2014 edition

  1. juniorg22 December 19, 2013 / 4:41 pm

    I agree about how ridiculous it is, but there’s more to it than strictly legal mumbo-jumbo. It’s marketing…obviously just about everyone knows what the superbowl is, but not everyone. Having a querky (ryhming at that) title for a contest put on by PayPal (Global company, not just US) will most likely draw more participants than if they mentioned Super Bowl, anywere. This is because they will get the participants that obviously know it’s the Super Bowl (like you or I), but for the minority of people in the United States (but majority in the rest of the world) not having the words Super Bowl anywhere in the contest official rules, and disclaimers will produce a greater chace of them entering the contest. This is because, quite frankly, the rest of the world for the most part does not like America very much for the exact reason that we obsess over things, like the Super Bowl.

  2. Kevin Wimberly December 19, 2013 / 5:00 pm

    Thanks for your comment. You hit on what I was trying to suggest when I wondered if companies are just having fun with it at this point. It’s less about avoiding the legal mumbo-jumbo; rather, maybe it has become its own meme, capable of increasing awareness and sales. (Note that the contest is only open to U.S. residents though.)

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