A Guide to Last-Minute March Madness Marketing
The craziness of March Madness is already underway, and the buzz surrounding the event is in full force. March Madness is a marketer’s dream as it presents great opportunities for reaching a broad audience, and it’s not too late to hop on the marketing bandwagon. This is everything you need to know to make the most of the tournament’s marketing potential:
Why does March Madness attract so much attention?
Partially because the NCAA has a penchant for alliteration (March Madness, Sweet 16, Final Four) and partially because the event consistently draws a large and diverse crowd. Whether you live for these three weeks in March or have never watched the entirety of a basketball game in your life, chances are you’ll still get involved with March Madness in some way. The ritualistic filling-out of brackets allows people to interact with the event outside of watching the games and generates buzz in homes, offices, bars and on social media. As USA TODAY writer Bruce Horovitz explained it, “March Madness is a marketing mix that advertisers crave but can rarely find. It has wide appeal to a very young and desirable audience. It’s live sports — one of the few things that’s TiVo proof. And March Madness is a social media gabfest.”
How are big brands using March Madness in their marketing?
Several brands are debuting new ads with celebrity spokespeople. Burger King’s TV spot features five-time NBA All-Star Chris Webber, Pizza Hut’s WingStreet ad stars ESPN anchor Scott Van Pelt, and Audi’s new ad features comedian Ricky Gervais.
Other brands are focusing on experiential marketing. Bud Light is setting up a temporary Bud Light Hotel in downtown Dallas, complete with Bud Light-branded signage, pillow cases, and key cards. The hotel will also host live concerts and celebrity players.
Another major trend this year is ambush marketing. Brands are piggybacking on the event without dealing with the outrageous expense of having in-game advertising. Companies using this approach include Pizza Hut (giving away the chance to win free pizzas), Hooter’s (offering free fried pickles) and Spam (creating viral videos of a goofy character named “Sir Can A Lot”).
How can you get in on the marketing action?
- Send out email blasts with a special offer.
- Create a display ad to run on social media platforms.
- Incorporate March Madness into your daily conversation with social media followers.
- Hold bracket contests.
- Tie-in a local team to make the marketing specific to your community.
- Host viewing parties for your customers at your store/office or another nearby venue.