March madness is every marketing person's dream event and nightmare in the same light. The fact that the tournament goes on over the course of three weeks can be a detriment to some, while a lifesaver to most. This gives advertisers months to put campaigns together and have the fruits of their labor seen over time. This marketing opportunity is just as important -- or more important -- than the Super Bowl. Before this is streamed with comments of disapproval to that statement, hear me out. The NCAA tournament enthralls people from every part of the country looking to see if their team is the next "bracket buster" or Cinderella team. Unlike the Super Bowl which has a full day of pregame talk, the NCAA tournament for the first two weeks has games going for the majority of the day. A couple of the following companies take advantage of the games being an all-day event for some.
If you hadn’t heard about Quicken Loans before, this NCAA tournament made sure to change that. Warren Buffett and Quicken Loans promised 1 billion dollars to anyone who had a perfect bracket. This created a buzz throughout the entire sporting community and anybody who filled out a bracket most likely also filled out the Quicken Loans bracket. This created such a buzz with the crazy results of the tournament that the last man with a perfect bracket who didn’t even enter the Quicken Loans bracket got some serious media exposure. The risk for Warren Buffett and Quicken Loans was minimal though, for the most educated fan the odds were 1:128 billion and 1:9(quintillion) for a random bracket. This has turned Quicken Loans into the most talked about company for the first 4 game days of the NCAA basketball tournament.
Pizza and sporting event go together equally as well as wings and sporting events. During the NCAA tournament, they are giving out free samples of their wing products if a team with a mascot that has wings wins. Buffalo Wild Wings has been active via social media but leave many people wanting more than just wings. Pizza Hut took full advantage and blitzkrieged last year’s NCAA tournament with great success. Overall, the tournament is often barraged with pizza, wings, and other junk foods that are great for game days. Granted, the diehard fans are inside all day and don’t want to miss the next play so ordering food is essential.
Burger King has been present in everyone’s mind during the tournament so far. They are present at the venues the games are played at by sponsoring a 3 on 3 basketball tournament. If that was not enough, they seem to be on every single commercial break. Burger King even roped Chris Webber into having a role in their commercial. Webber was the face of the “Fab Five” from Michigan who went to the NCAA finals and lost to my alma mater UNC Chapel Hill. Webber is one of the most recognizable characters in March Madness because of the role that he played in that tournament. The hashtag #watchlikeaking has been present on Twitter throughout the tourney and the social media team from Burger King has been doing a great job creating a buzz.
March Madness is something that everybody enjoys because of the unpredictable nature of the outcome of the games. Coaches aren’t the only ones who have a game plan for the tournament. Marketing teams spend months planning their attack on the tourney in order to create a buzz. Nobody can predict a perfect bracket or who the eventual champion will be months out from the tournament, but these 3 companies won the marketing battle during the first weekend.