Why do retailers refer to the Super Bowl as 'the big game'?

Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest pizza delivery day of the year and two of the nation's largest chains are preparing. On Papa John's website there's no less than five references to Super Bowl XLV and the NFL. Pizza Hut's site, on the other hand, includes only a conspicuous reference to "the big game."

Local car dealerships, furniture stores, electronics outlets and other advertisers will be promoting Super Bowl sales without actually saying those two words.

"Come out and save on a new HD TV before the big game."

"Need room for your championship party? Furniture Center has couches for no money down!"

"Sunday is game day in Dallas. Stock up on party supplies at Party Central."

Why do companies promote the "big game" or "championship parties" instead of saying "Super Bowl'? And why, if there are football players in the commercial, are they always for a generic non-NFL team?

Advertisers pay huge amounts of money to become an official sponsor of the NFL. In doing so, they buy the right to use league logos, game footage, branding and the trademarked phrases "Super Bowl" and "Super Sunday." Companies that don't pay the premium resort to "ambush marketing" to get around this, hence generic phrases like "big game" and the use of non-NFL jerseys and game footage.
It varies depending on the product, but for big advertisers the price can be astronomical. The NFL is vigilant in protecting its copyrighted phrases. Some companies push ambush marketing to the limits. Electronics store HH Gregg features a circular that uses the word "Super" and the roman numerals "XLV." It wouldn't be surprising if the retailer heard from the NFL prior to the Super -- er, big game.

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