Guy Fieri's 'Munch Madness' T-shirt Is Dangerously Close to Trademark Infringement
Guy Fieri really flipped the whole culinary world on its head. He's a far cry from the snooty television personalities who made it seem like something reserved for classically trained chefs or five-star restaurants. He's the everyman of the cooking world.
He's also a branding expert.
Fieri has worked with bands like Blink-182 for special edition T-shirts for charity. He's Created a whole line of merchandise for a fictional University of Flavortown. His face is printed on towels. He's just easy to make into merchandise.
But, our Guy is playing with fire a little bit with his new "Munch Madness" T-shirt, which parodies the March Madness logo for the NCAA Tournament.
Also borrowing Dick Vitale's "It's awesome, baby!" catchphrase, Fieri's Flavortown brand dropped the T-shirt with "Flavortown" across the front and Fieri's name on the back with the number 23.
“It’s the bomb dot com awesome, baby!” 🎙😂
— Flavortown (@flavortown) March 13, 2023
On the chest, though, there's a little design featuring what is basically the trademarked March Madness logo with the bracket design and same font, but with an abstract rendering of Fieri's famous sunglasses and goatee instead of the NCAA logo. Also, it obviously says "Munch Madness" instead of "March Madness."
That's because the "March Madness" trademark is extremely proprietary. The NCAA has been so careful with it that it wasn't even until last year that the women's basketball tournament was even allowed to use it for branded merchandise given to players!
It's like also like the Olympics, where phrases like "Olympiad," "Paralympic" or "Team USA" are trademarked. There's also a reason just about every brand uses "Big Game" instead of "Super Bowl."
We're sure Fieri has a good team of lawyers who ensured that his design is just different enough to play off of the March Madness logo without stepping on any trademarked toes. But still, it took some guts to make that move.
And borrow one of Fieri's own catchphrases, it wouldn't be a surprise if the NCAA thought that design was "out of bounds." But, again, Fieri no doubt has a full legal team who signs off on all of the designs, ensuring that nothing could be considered trademark infringement.
If you're working on a promotion and want to parody a well-known brand, be very sure that any imagery or wording you used is not trademarked. You might be surprised.