Brand Protection (or How Silly is the NFL)

It’s that time of year again.

Football season is winding down, and top-level “American professional football league” is getting ready for the “big game in Arlington, Texas”.

– Are you running the office pool to buy squares in the “professional football championship game” pool?

– You have been invited to a Super Party for the Big Bowl Game, right?

– Are you following the rules of the NFL, that say that you cannot say “NFL”, “Super Bowl”, or “Super Bowl Sunday” (among other things) without express written consent?

Yes, the NFL is once again, cracking down on people who may want to use it’s intellectual property.

Of course, I fully respect and understand that if Pepsi is the official sponsor of the Super Bowl/NFL and has paid a lot of money for that right, that it would be reasonable for them to not want Coca-Cola to promote a “Super Bowl 2 for 1 Sale” on Coca-Cola products.

I’m not an intellectual property lawyer, so whether or not a church (or similar organization) can or cannot show the Super Bowl on a screen larger than 55-inches is not something that I am qualified to rule on.

However, as someone who knows and cares about brand issues (and is someone with a fair amount of common sense), I do have some strong opinions about how ridiculous this is.

What if anyone were not allowed to say “Twitter” or “Tweet” without express written consent of the office of the CEO of Twitter…would we all have to say “I was reading the @jowyang message from a 140-character or less platform”.  Would we have to say “I used a powerful software tool to merge and alter these photographic images” or “Just use a popular search engine to find the information that you are looking for.”

Of course not…”tweeting”, “PhotoShopping”, and “Googling” are all part of our common lexicon, and this sort of mass adoption of these products as verbs is a very powerful asset to these brands.

Yes, the Super Bowl is the second largest sporting event in the world…and it’s not likely that many people are going to be stopped from having their own “Super Bowl Party”, etc…but the NFL seems to be afraid of letting the world promote their brand for them.

Are the NFL and the Super Bowl above the “normal” branding issues that the rest of the world faces?  Until everyday is Super Bowl Sunday, I don’t think so.

NOTE – I did not receive express written consent, implied oral consent, or any other form of consent to use the brand names mentioned in this post.  All trademarks belong to their respective owners.

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