Apple is Returning to the Super Bowl

January 15, 2016, 4:15 PM UTC
Photograph by Andrew Burton

Apple is returning to the Super Bowl this year. But not in the way you’d expect.

Apple has confirmed to Yahoo Finance that it is a Super Bowl Host Committee sponsor. The iPhone maker did not say how much money it contributed to the event, nor whether it will play another role at the year’s biggest day in football.

The Super Bowl Host Committee is critical to the presentation and ultimate playing of the Super Bowl. A few years in advance, the National Football League (NFL) appoints several people in the host city to run the Super Bowl Host Committee. Like a regular business, the Host Committee has employees that work on the day-to-day functions needed to plan events, entertainment, and most other facets required to get Super Bowl week, and the Super Bowl, off the ground. Above the leadership team is an advisory board that provides help where needed.

In the majority of cases, the Super Bowl Host Committee receives some funding from local municipalities to fund the mega-event. However, with Super Bowl 50, neither California nor the Bay Area contributed to the event, Yahoo Finance is reporting. The news outlet, which spoke with the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee CEO Keith Bruce, said that it instead raised approximately $50 million from sponsors to fund its activities.

Apple (AAPL), along with car-hailing service Uber, were among the host committee sponsors.

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There are typically three ways for a company to get involved with the Super Bowl. With boatloads of cash, companies can opt to sponsor the Super Bowl Host Committee, sponsor the Super Bowl itself, or run ads. In the vast majority of cases, companies each year spend millions of dollars on commercials that will run during the Super Bowl. Only a small number will sponsor the Host Committee.

One of the benefits of being a Super Bowl sponsor instead of a Super Bowl Host Committee sponsor is the opportunity to use the NFL logo in promotional material. Host Committee sponsors may only use that body’s logo. In his interview with Yahoo Finance, Bruce said that Apple had no interest in using the NFL logo. Indeed, he said that Apple believed the NFL “should pay them for the right use their mark,” adding that the iPhone maker believes its logo is more valuable than that of the NFL.

So, why might Apple have decided to be a Host Committee sponsor? For now, the company isn’t saying. However, Bruce told Yahoo Finance that Apple was the first to become a sponsor and did so mainly because “it was important to Silicon Valley.”

For more, read This Is How Much a 2016 Super Bowl Ad Costs

“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,'” Bruce told Yahoo Finance.

Regardless, Apple’s involvement is notable for being the first time in well over a decade that the company has been involved in a Super Bowl. Despite getting hit by competitors each year that showcase their smartphones, tablets, or other devices, Apple has largely stayed away from Super Bowl advertising. Indeed, the company is best known for its “1984” ad that aired the same year.

While Apple will not comment on its reasoning for skipping the Super Bowl each year, it’s clear the company doesn’t like to lump itself in with other firms. That was made abundantly clear earlier this month when Apple, as it has for the last several years, decided to sit out of CES, the technology industry’s biggest technology show. Nearly every other major technology company was in attendance.

For more on the Super Bowl, watch our video.

In addition to doling out some cash, Apple was able to get one of its own on the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee Advisory Group: The company’s general counsel Bruce Sewell. He’s joined by a veritable “Who’s Who” of well-known people, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Yahoo (YHOO) CEO Marissa Mayer, Intel (INTC) CEO Brian Krzanich, and Charles Schwab (SCHW) founder and CEO Charles Schwab.

The Super Bowl will be held on Feb. 7 at the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

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