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Super what? Never heard of it.

The advertiser’s eyes dart furtively. “Some major sporting event coming up this weekend? Yeah, you’re talking to the wrong person about that.” Super Bowl Sunday? “Shhh!! I wouldn’t know anything about a thing like that.”

As we approach the only national holiday which must not be named, give some sympathy to the copywriters who write weekly retail circulars. Check out how hard this is:

Stop & Shop chooses to run a logo for some mythical football event called the GIGANTIC GAME.

Walmart takes the classic approach, referring to some vague, unspecified “big game.” (Like water buffalo?)

Over at Best Buy, they’re also fond of the word “BIG.”

Target‘s approach is to show a referee (the best part of the Super Bowl, am I right?) with the copyline, “YOUR GAME-DAY GAME PLAN.”

Kmart goes slightly more obscure, saying “Get ready for super buys!”—which happen to include a large television and assorted party snacks.

The Walgreens approach is yet more subtle: A graphic of a football field, but no copy about football whatsoever.

Radio Shack, always weird, shows some football stock photos and proclaims, “THE SHACK IS IN YOUR STARTING LINEUP.”

And lastly, H.H. Gregg‘s weekly circular even borrows the Super Bowl’s Roman numerals to advertise “SUPER SALE 2011 XLV.”

This is insane, but it happens for a sane reason. The NFL has invested many years in building the Super Bowl into the most valuable contest in American sports, and deserves the right to enforce its trademark. Unless you pay for the rights, you’re legally prohibited from using the Super Bowl in an ad.

That all makes sense, but the result is we get weekly circulars with tortured headlines like the ones you see above. The likes of Walmart are de-fanged, forced to use limp phrases like “big game.” It’s about as un-super as it gets.

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Advertising, Copywriting


  1. RT says:

    dumb question: why can’t they say “super bowl”? is it a trademark thing like with the olympics?

  2. RT says:

    ah, never mind, just read the end… 😉

  3. Pingback: The Super Bowl: A Cheat Sheet for Non-Football-Fans | RW Daily

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