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March Madness: What does it mean for marketers?

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The month of March brings many exciting things: warmer weather, St Patrick’s day, the first day of spring, and of course March Madness. For many of us, March Madness is the time of year when our officemates bet against each other, and all of our sitcoms are talking about brackets. But to marketers, March Madness means opportunity.

Over the last 75 years, the NCAA has turned a simple college basketball tournament into a household name. Today, March Madness is one of the most sought after sports broadcasts for marketers, pulling ahead of the NBA, and the MLB. Huge companies like Dove and Capital One are now harnessing March Madness themed campaigns to promote their own products. This incredible accomplishment has many people asking how did they do it?

Here are a few of the marketing 101 tactics that the NCAA has used to create success.

  1. Brand Yourself: The NCAA has effectively made non-fans care about basketball. In an
    attempt to reach a larger audience, they created a strong brand identity for the tournament. Using catchy alliterations like “March Madness” “Sweet Sixteen”, “Elite Eight”, and the “Final Four” brings life to the tournament. The success of the NCAA is obvious to big brands like this year’s leading sponsor, Capital One. They have launched a March Madness campaign using TV spots, online spots, print, digital and social media. The ads will feature Alec Baldwin and former NBA player Charles Barkley promoting the Capital One Venture card within a framework of the March Madness tournament. Capital One is using the hashtag #rallycry to get fans on Twitter talking about their favorite teams. capitalonemarchmadness
  2. Get Digital: It is no surprise that more and more consumers are engaging online. Last year, The NCAA saw 2.2 million unique visits to their website during the tournament. In addition, March Madness generated nearly 3 million tweets, and currently has a Facebook following of 410K. By incorporating digital media into their traditional marketing plan, the NCAA was able to generate a huge amount of online buzz. This online presence translated into a large amount of revenue. Last year alone, March Madness brought in $60 Million dollars in online advertising for
  3. Generate Passion: Although not everyone can incorporate a game into their marketing strategy, it is clear that adding a competition engages consumers on a whole new level. March Madness brackets attract bothdovemarchmadness hard-core basketball followers,and non-fans looking to add a little chance into their lives. This year, Dove launched their Dove Men+Care March Matchups. The campaign will mimic a March Madness Bracket, matching up things like Cable TV VS Buffalo Wild Wings. Each contender is a prize packet, with the final prize being a trip to the real March Madness Final Four. The Dove campaign combines and element of surprise and chance to have their consumers consistently engaged for an extended period of time.

We all know there is never a magic formula to a lucrative marketing campaign, however the NCAA is using a successful strategy that can be applied to any industry.

In keeping with the times we have decided to create our own Cyphers Agency bracket facing off different elements of the advertising industry. Stay tuned for updates!



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