Super Bowl Marketing: How to Get in the Game Without Getting Sued

super bowl marketing

For me, the best Super Bowl marketing campaigns are every bit as memorable as the actual game.

Think about it.

You may not remember the Buccaneers beating the Raiders in 2003, but you probably remember the Budweiser frogs or Nike’s pre-Space Jam pairing of Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny, or Apple’s 1984-inspired ad directed by Ridley Scott.

Wanna cash in on the Super Bowl marketing bonanza? It’s too bad the cost to air a 30-second TV ad is somewhere around $5 million.

Fortunately, there are ways to promote your small business during the Super Bowl. Here are tips for jumping into Super Bowl marketing.

First, Don’t Say Super Bowl in Your Super Bowl Marketing.  

The first rule of Super Bowl marketing is: You do not say Super Bowl.

That’s right.

The NFL owns the copyright to the term Super Bowl. If you use it in your marketing, you could be sued for infringement. And don’t even think that you can out-lawyer the NFL.

The most common way to refer to the big game in marketing and advertising is to call it, well, the big game. (The NFL tried to copyright that term as well but was blocked by Stanford University and the University of California, who started calling their college football rivalry the Big Game way back in 1892.)

You could also get creative with the naming. For example, Chipotle has referred to the event as “The Super Big Internationally Televised Professional Bowl Game” in its Super Bowl marketing campaigns.

But, whatever you do, remember the first rule of Super Bowl marketing. Do not say Super Bowl!

Now, Here are Your Small Business Super Bowl Marketing Tips.

1. Keep an Eye on Your Social Ad Spend

Last month, I encouraged you to set up your first Facebook ad and experiment with retargeting via Facebook custom audiences.

Now, I’m going to tell you to slow down – or turn off – your ad spend from around January 24 to February 7.

Big companies boost their Facebook ad budgets around the Super Bowl, so you’ll have to pay more for each click. Watch your CPC metrics to make sure you’re not over-paying.

2. Help Fans Opt Out of the Super Bowl

As part of its #OptOutside campaign, REI goes against the grain by closing its stores on Black Friday and encouraging fans to hike rather than shop.

If your audience isn’t particularly interested in the Super Bowl, give them an excuse to opt out by inviting them to an in-store event or by offering alternative ideas for how to spend their Super Sunday.

3. Don’t Forget the Halftime Show

Depending on your product, your buyer may be more interested in the halftime show than the game itself.

Justin Timberlake will be bringing sexy back at halftime this year. Let’s just hope his performance doesn’t lead to a wardrobe malfunction as it did back in 2004.

Think about creative ways to tap into the buzz around the most-watched musical performance of the year.

4. Use Wit – and Hashtags – to Jack the Game

Newsjacking or trendjacking is the act of injecting your brand, product, or idea into a large event in real-time — usually in an attempt to “go viral” on social media.

Let’s say JT’s performance does lead to another wardrobe malfunction. You could post a witty comment with a link to your best-selling tops. Just be sure to use the right trending hashtags.

Are you planning a Super Bowl marketing campaign?

About the Author

Matt Simpson

Matt is a freelance writer for The DRIVE blog with expertise in digital marketing, social media, and copywriting. He's active in the #yesphx startup movement and has been recognized by AdWeek, Mashable, and more for digital innovation. Visit Matt's website or follow Matt on Twitter.


  1. says

    #2 is such a great idea, especially this year with all the controversy surrounding the NFL. There’ll probably be more people than ever thinking about “opting out” of the Super Bowl so why not give them something to do? 🙂

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