Stella PR+ Marketing | Marketing Madness
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Marketing Madness

March Madness is right around the corner! Starting March 15, 68 college basketball teams will grind it out for three weeks to see who will win the National Championship on April 4. March Madness is one of the most popular sporting events, second only to the NFL playoffs. There will be upsets, Cinderella stories, and fans that tout their school colors mercilessly. All of which make it a wonderful time to be a marketer! With so many eyes on March Madness, brands have an excellent opportunity to use this to their advantage and exponentially expand their reach.


The Hype
One reason March Madness is so popular is because fans don’t just watch the games, they play them! From friends to family to coworkers, March Madness and brackets go hand-in-hand. People usually pitch in about ten dollars and the winning bracket gets the pot. Last year, over 100 million people filled out brackets; Warren Buffet even offered $1 billion dollars to whoever got a perfect bracket!



Brands like Coca-Cola pay more than a million dollars for a March Madness TV spot.

So what does that mean for your brand? It means that eyes are glued to the game… an average of 11.3 million to be exact! The NCAA even created a mobile app called March Madness Live so people can watch the games live. This is the time to show off your brand, when people are constantly plugged into their television, cellphone, and social media pages. Big brands can take advantage of television advertisements. In 2014, 1.13 billion dollars was spent on TV ads during March Madness games. This year, ad space is virtually sold out, with a 20% increase in digital revenue for Turner Sports. So what if you can’t score that ad slot on TV?


You can always take advantage of cheaper ad space on mobile games such as, “March Mayhem”. Chances are, people who are watching the game will turn to games that mimic the real thing once it has finished. If you’re on an even smaller budget, there’s always social media and that has proven to be just as successful!


Make the Most of March Madness
People are already in the competitive spirit and brands take full advantage by launching social media contests, getting people to interact with and develop a better connection to their brand. For example, Degree Men launched a Twitter campaign in 2015 for the first 48 hours of the tournament. Degree teamed up with NBA star Stephen Curry to launch the “48 hours of NCAA March Madness” Twitter contest. Participants tweeted @DegreeMen with the hashtags #GameChangerFan and #Contest with photos or videos explaining why they were the ultimate fan. Winners received a $500 gift card and a personalized message from Stephen Curry himself. Lexus also launched a competition called “GS F the Bracket” to promote their new car, asking fans to guess which games will reach a combined 60 points the fastest. Their unique bracket plays off the idea that the GS F is built for speed and, with a GS F inspired vacation up for grabs, it is sure to get people talking.


Oreo received 18,600 likes on this Instagram photo encouraging people to #PlaywithOreo.

Oreo received 18,600 likes on this Instagram photo encouraging people to #PlaywithOreo.

Beyond competitions, there are more ways to get your brand noticed on social media. Take a lesson from Oreo and create a unique and compelling hashtag. They encouraged viewers to share pictures “showing their dunk” with the hashtag #PlaywithOreo. The brand engaged 54,539 people, ranking first for social media campaigns in 2015.


You can also take a step back from the competition to poke some fun at the madness. You have a better chance of winning the Powerball with the Colorado Lottery than you do creating the perfect bracket! People realize this, making it the perfect target for a joke! KFC did this well in their social media post that read: “If nothing else, I can use my bracket as a napkin.” It’s a fun way to connect with fans and can help lighten the mood if someone’s bracket fails, making your brand seem more sympathetic and personable.


March Madness is more than just a tournament. It is a cultural time of the year and a potential gold mine for businesses. So take these tips and make it a “slam dunk” for your brand!