March Madness for Marketers

As seasons change and the weather gets warmer, millions of basketball fans sit in wait with bated breath for that special time of the year: March Madness. The seven-round, 68-team NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament is met with so much excitement and enthusiasm that it might as well be a national holiday. However, as fans eagerly await the beginning of the notorious tournament, so do marketers.

March Madness is followed by a wide variety of demographics – between students and alumni alone, marketers know they have the opportunity to reach the key age groups of 18-54, men and women alike.  While TV commercials have been the go-to form of advertisement in years past, many of the bigger brands have taken to social media for their March Madness campaigns, reigning in a whole new category of consumers.

An official sponsor of the March Madness for the ninth year in a row, Enterprise Rent-A-Car has partnered with basketball analyst Kenny Smith to launch an interactive bracket on Facebook called the Ultimate Pick Up. Users log onto the Enterprise Facebook page and can vote for what they think is the best ‘pick-up moment’, or game-changing play, that took place during the tournament. The moments will be compared to one another, aligning with the NCAA games bracket, and one pick-up moment will be named as the greatest. Fans who participate in the pick-up moment bracket will also have the opportunity enter a sweepstakes for the chance to win two tickets and a trip to the 2015 NCAA Men’s Final Four, among other prizes.

Bonobos, an e-commerce-driven apparel company for men, is also leveraging the NCAA bracket by partnering with Thuzio, an online marketplace that allows users to book professional athletes for local experiences. While half of the fan’s bracket will count toward a final score, the other half will come from the professional athlete he/she chooses for the contest. The winning user will receive two tickets to next year’s March Madness.

Additionally, Buffalo Wild Wings launched a series of online videos boasting its dedication to the sport while humoring fans.  

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