The Super Bowl kicks off on February 7th at Levi’s Stadium, in close vicinity to the headquarters of major tech firms including Apple. Usually, the Super Bowl is funded by local government sponsorships. This year, tech companies are (at least partially) footing the bill. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple has contributed free products and equipment to the host committee and has explicitly declined any company or product marketing in exchange. Apple joins other tech companies like Alphabet, Yahoo, Seagate and HP in funding the proceedings — the Super Bowl committee has raised about $50 million in total from these firms.
Why Apple wants to sponsor essentially in secret (having turned down opportunities for logo placement) is unclear. In Yahoo News on Friday, it was reported that Apple was helping out simply because it was the right thing to do:
“Our sponsors will get a lot of attention in the Bay Area because they stepped up early to be a part of this,” says Bruce. “Apple was the very first company of all our sponsors to step up. And the reason they did that is because they realized that it was important to Silicon Valley. It was during a bit of a transition time from Steve [Jobs] to Tim [Cook], and they told us, ‘This is the right thing to do. We’re building a mega campus that will be a stone’s throw from the stadium.’ They have no interest in the marketing rights, they have no interest in using our logo. But they’re promoting the partnership a lot internally to their employees.”
The motivation for other businesses is obvious: Uber is advertising ‘official’ NFL transport at the event as a way to promote its taxi services. In return for the financial support, sponsors are allowed to use the NFL logo mark in their own advertising around the event. However, it appears Apple is not interested in that either. Apple believes its logo is more influential than the NFL’s and if anything, the NFL should be paying Apple to use its trademarks.
If you ask Bruce, Apple doesn’t much care about the rights to the NFL logo anyway. “Their opinion,” he says, “is that the NFL should pay them for the right to use their mark. Because their mark is more valuable than the NFL shield.”
Although Apple is a sponsor through this deal, they are not necessarily involved with the game itself. There is some speculation that this arrangement means Apple will run an advertising commercial during the Super Bowl this year but it is not guaranteed. Apple was rumored to run a Super Bowl commercial in 2014 for the 30th anniversary of the Mac, but this never transpired.
Alas, nothing will be as iconic as the 1984 ad, arguably one of the world’s most notable Super Bowl ads ever.