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Color-ology of the Big Game

As the color and spectacle of Super Bowl 50 nears, and we all prepare to watch it on our 60” high definition flat screen TVs, it’s interesting to compare our current visual expectations of the event to the original version.

On Jan. 15, 1967, the date of the first Super Bowl, less than 25 percent of American homes had a color TV. So the majority of those football fans interested enough to tune in, saw the lush L.A. Coliseum Field, the green and yellow of the Packers uniforms and the bright red of the Chiefs, only as various shades of gray. The 100,000-seat stadium was only 60 percent filled that day, which is equally strange to consider today.

There was no Super Bowl logo for that first game, since it was known largely as The AFL-NFL World Championship Game. “Super Bowl” as a recognized and tenaciously trademarked brand name arrived the following year. (Try using the words “Super Bowl” in a pSuper Bowl 50 logoromotion and see how quickly you get a cease and desist letter.) Since then, every game has received its own logo treatment—each one attempting to represent it as a compellingly momentous sporting event.

And for over 40 contests, Roman numerals have always been used to designate the year. Until this year. 2016 will be a one-time, one-year switch from using Roman numerals. This year’s Super Bowl logo is the epitome of simplicity—a polished gold “50” behind the shining silver Super Bowl trophy. Strong, elegant, confident. In its reflection is the one sporting event that brings the majority of Americans to a well-fed and advertisement-rich standstill.

The Teams

The Denver Broncos uniforms will bring their complementary colors of orange (PMS 1655) and blue (PMS 289C) to the playing field, creating maximum contrast and maximum visual “stability.” Their contrast to the green playing field grass will make it easier for Peyton Manning to see his receivers streaking down the field.

Across the line of scrimmage, the Carolina Panthers will be decked out in their bright (Pantone Process) blue, black and silver uniforms. These nearly electric colors are a perfect expression of the youthful, athletic, Cam Newton-led team. For the Carolina fans, it’s been said “Blue and black aren’t just colors, they’re a state of mind.” There has even been a rap song and video of the team produced, called “‪Carolina Colors.”

Whatever team and team colors you support during the game, don’t leave your seat and miss the commercials. They’re the one part of the event that fans on both sides can appreciate and enjoy.

Written by:

Mark wrote his first direct-mail fundraising letter in 1981 for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement. The effort raised a few million dollars in undiscovered wills and legacy gifts. From that day forward Mark discovered a love of the big idea that moves the needle.

After 12 years at KWWL, Mark became a business owner as a co-founder of ME&V — rebranded as AMPERAGE in 2015. After 25 years of leading creative teams in video production, graphic design, PR, writing and web development, Mark transitioned out of ownership in 2021. Today he serves in an employee role as special projects consultant.

He is creatively ambidextrous — son of an artist and engineer — and famous for distilling complex ideas down to a few words and a few visuals. Mark is a writer. When he found that many nonprofits struggled with complex branding puzzles, he wrote the book, “NonProfit-NonMarketing .” He also wrote a novel called “Reenactment.”

Mark is an active blogger OneMinuteMarketer® with nearly 1,000 readers each week on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. One of his most popular YouTube videos is on “How to Look Good on Zoom.”

One of Mark’s fondest business memories was being named to INC 500 two times and attending the INC 500 conference with other winners. Mark is considered by some a Civil War expert (and that explains his novel). Mark also served as an adjunct professor in the business and in the communications departments at Wartburg College.

Mark is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is currently vice president of the University of Iowa Journalism and Mass Communications Advisory Board.

Mark is married to state Sen. Liz Mathis, and the two love to travel, even when it means being trapped by a volcano in the Czech Republic for three weeks.