In 2014, the NCAA March Madness Tournament drew a television audience of over 30 million people. This annual tournament is a marketing paradise for companies who are trying to strengthen their brand and reach their target markets. In 2014 over $1.5 billion was spent on advertising during the tournament, and why not? The tournament, full of storylines seemingly plucked straight out of Hollywood, has become a national phenomenon.
Sports fan or not, it has become an American custom to fill out tournament brackets and follow along as the tournament games are played out. Bracket fillers then follow and watch the tournament on different media such as television, phone applications and websites to keep track of their progress in hopes of winning the office pool.
With such a buzz around this event, there are plenty of opportunities for companies to market their brands, products and services. Content marketing has become a huge component of March Madness. Some companies have become known for their successful content marketing during previous March Madness tournaments. Here are four different companies and how they took advantage of the content marketing opportunity in the NCAA and the March Madness tournament.
1. Quicken Loans
In 2014, Quicken Loans took advantage of this phenomenon by acting as a sponsor for the event. The Quicken Loans Company partnered with Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway and Yahoo! Sports to sponsor the Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge. The company saw this as an opportunity to get its brand name in front of a wide audience filled with potential new clients (because who doesn’t want to win a billion dollars). Quicken Loans’ partnership with Yahoo! Sports gave them the opportunity to plaster their brand all over the Yahoo! Sports phone app, which provided up to date tournament results and information.
In the weeks leading up to the tournament, the company also ran multiple television commercials that aired on different CBS affiliate channels that broadcast the different tournament games. This led to a number of different viral searches of the Quicken Loans brand and the “Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge.” Quicken Loans was able to capitalize on the popularity of the March Madness tournament. It is critical to realize the importance of incorporating current events into your marketing campaigns.
During the 2013 tournament, AT&T became a major partner of the NCAA, the major governing body of college sports responsible for organizing the event each year. With this new partnership, AT&T launched a social media campaign during the tournament, mainly on Twitter. The partnership allowed AT&T to purchase numerous advertisements for tweets being sent out by the NCAA Twitter handle @MarchMadness.
In recent years, companies have been using Twitter with a lot success during events like the NCAA tournament. AT&T took full advantage of their partnership with the NCAA by promoting tournament related tweets that were being pumped out by the tournament’s social media team. If your company or organization is able to take advantage of a sponsorship opportunity, it could lead to exciting opportunities for collaboration on social media.
3. Capital One
Capital One’s partnership with all NCAA sports, including the March Madness tournament has become a major content marketing opportunity for the company. During the 2014 tournament, Capital One pulled out all the stops when it came to content marketing. The NCAA itself holds an online bracket challenge, and Capital One was the main sponsor for that challenge. Additionally, the company produced several different television commercials for the tournament that featured past college and NBA basketball stars like Greg Anthony and Charles Barkley.
The company didn’t stop there; they also sponsored ads that ran on different streaming platforms such as the online “NCAA March Madness Live” and the “NCAA March Madness Live” app. March Madness provides multiple marketing channels for companies to utilize during the tournament. The partnership that Capital One has with the NCAA gave them the opportunity to market their brand on these different channels where they could reach an even larger audience. Being able to effectively utilize multiple marketing channels is huge to your success as a company.
4. DISH Network
In 2014, DISH released a whole new way of accessing and enjoying the tournament. With its “Bracket Breaks” and “Dish Anywhere” marketing campaigns, DISH was able to integrate their online streaming features with the NCAA tournament. Streaming the NCAA tournament away from home has become a huge part of the viewing experience for fans everywhere. Tournament viewers are utilizing online streaming websites and different phone apps to view the tournament away from home. DISH was able to capitalize on this opportunity by providing more online streaming applications like Dish Anywhere, Hop View, and BracketView. During the 2014 tournament there were over 70 million live video streams, which was up over 42 percent from 2013. Being able to tap into the online streaming business is very important since online streaming of the tournament is becoming more popular each year.
Ultimately, all of these companies were able to take advantage of the marketing opportunities that the March Madness tournament presents. These companies were able to utilize content marketing to reach the millions of people who follow and watch the tournament each year. In doing so, these companies strengthened their brand recognition and were able to connect with a large number of consumers. These are some of the best content marketing strategies that you or your company could employ if given a major marketing opportunity such as the March Madness tournament.
Kolby Merryman—Content Creator