The Hershey Bears coined the phrase “Defend The Den” as their rallying cry to begin the 2013-14 season under newly hired head coach Mike Haviland. The team had lost in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals for the third straight season and the marketing group shook things up. Thus, Defend the Den was developed and quickly put into the team’s marketing efforts and social media strategy.
— Kaylee Dugan (@KayleeDugan) February 15, 2014
The team began using the hashtag “Defend The Den” on twitter, along with showcasing the slogan on their website and in radio and tv commercials and advertisements. Using slogans is nothing new in 2014 during a sports social media revolution, but if you’re a team in professional sports measures should be taken to protect your assets at all costs, or in this case minimal cost to one of the most successful businesses in Pennsylvania (Hershey Entertainment and Resorts)
The NFL’s Detroit Lions have launched their own “Defend The Den” campaign for the upcoming NFL season, which has already caught the attention of their team’s fans around the country. The Lions have began to use the phrase often on their social media accounts, placed a banner in the front of their stadium, along with handing out their tickets to season ticket holders in a package with “Defend The Den” on the front.
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) August 6, 2014
Registering a slogan with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is a simple affair and is cheap, around $300 if you follow online. Getting a team’s slogan that’s beyond a social media scheme should be a priority for any professional sports team. It’s simple and an obvious way to protect a company’s assets. If not protected, any other company can technically use the same slogan as their own.
“Where a registered mark or a mark sought to be registered is or may be used legitimately by related companies, such use shall inure to the benefit of the registrant or applicant for registration, and such use shall not affect the validity of such mark or of its registration, provided such mark is not used in such manner as to deceive the public. If first use of a mark by a person is controlled by the registrant or applicant for registration of the mark with respect to the nature and quality of the goods or services, such first use shall inure to the benefit of the registrant or applicant, as the case may be” -United States Patent and Trademark Office
The Hershey Bears now have an indirect competitor using the same slogan as them, which they might not be able to stop, if they even want or need to. This use of “Defend The Den” by the Detroit Lions likely won’t have any impact on Hershey’s marketing efforts for the upcoming season, the Lions might be using this as a one year campaign, but this clearly shows the importance of protecting your culture, just like a team would protect its players. You’d think that a team was the history of the Hershey Bears would have taken care of a near formality when they began their campaign.