Stadium Naming Rights Deal Sparks Trademarks

By Jill StarbuckPellegrino & Associates

What do jeans and football have in common? Naming rights. Levi Strauss & Co. (Levi) and the San Francisco 49ers (49ers) agreed to a 20-year deal worth $220 million for the naming rights of a new stadium. The Levi Stadium is slated to host the Super Bowl in 2016 and is now the most high-tech stadium in the NFL. Before the deal was complete, Levi purchased a dozen domain names[1] related to “stadium.” Levi has also applied for trademarks for catchphrases associated with the stadium: “Win One for the Zipper” and “Field of Jeans.”

Levi’s move to trademark these catchphrases and own various domain names is brilliant. Why? Because Levi enhances its brand image. The more ways the company can tie its name together with the football stadium, the more exposure the company will get. Since it’s a new deal, a new stadium, and a new name, the catchphrases raise awareness and help consumers associate the retailer with the 49ers stadium, especially for those faithful 49er fans who have always associated the team with Candlestick Park.

“Win One for the Zipper” and “Field of Jeans” are catchy, fun, and memorable. And more than just football fans will find them intriguing. Consumers may purchase memorabilia as a keepsake when they attend an event. Others will buy the memorabilia in support of the 49ers, because they love football, because they like Levi jeans, or because they really like the phrases. Furthermore, the catchphrases make advertising more interesting as they can be used in commercials, on memorabilia, on the stadium itself, and more. With 68,500 seats, each time the stadium is filled to capacity for football games, concerts, or other events, that’s thousands of more chances for visibility.

Companies that tout loads of various catchphrases and slogans get more visibility in a variety of settings and for a variety of reasons. For instance, McDonald’s has specific slogans for its fish, for its specialty burgers, for its ingredients, and others. Apple has specific slogans for its app store, for its iPhone, for its iPad, and many more. It’s only fitting that Levi would come up with catchphrases and slogans for its new association with the stadium. In fact, the company may come up with more in relation to the stadium.

Effective catchphrases are often witty, distinctive, and easy to remember. Levi chose well-known sports-oriented catchphrases and added a twist to incorporate association to its core product: jeans. These phrases are likely to catch on and give Levi great exposure.

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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