While waiting in line to order delicious Chipotle tacos, I saw a sign advertising Chipotle’s burritos in a box for large parties. The sign read: “THE REALLY BIG NATIONALLY TELEVISED FOOTBALL GAME PARTY IN A BOX”. I figured that they were referring to the Superbowl and I wondered why they just didn’t use the word “Superbowl”. So, I did a quick Google search. The NFL owns the Trademark to the name “Superbowl” and many other marks relating to “The Big Game”. They are very, very well protected. Here is just a brief example of the terms:
Without clear permission of the NFL, broadcasters and other media may not use the following terms or images: “Superbowl”, “Superbowl Sunday”, the Superbowl logo, “NFL”, “National Football League”, “AFC”, “American Football League”, “NFC” or “National Football Conference”.
The Trademarks listed above can be licensed for a price. For example, if you wanted to put the word “Superbowl” on a bag of chips, you would have to pay a licensing fee. So, maybe Chipotle’s ad was their legal teams way of getting around the licensing fee. If so, kudos to you In-House Counsel. OR, was it intentional? The ad does fit very well with their company brand and advertising style. If the concept of the ad was to be clever by not using the word “Superbowl”, I still give props to Chipotle’s legal department and, in addition, their advertising team for legally and with great brilliance conveying their message.