It’s that time of the year again… March Madness!
For those of you who are less familiar with the term, it is also known as the annual NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. The term was coined after the crazy frenzy fans get into as they cheer for their favorite team to win the national championship for college basketball. March Madness is the second largest sporting event in the nation, right after the NFL Playoffs according to an article written by Raisa. So what does this mean?
This means that March Madness is also the time for social media madness and advertising madness. Just last year, the national TV advertising spending amounted to $1.13 billion, up 1.5% from the prior year. “As of 1 week ago, advertisement inventory related to March Madness was 95% sold out across TV and online platforms.” Just like the Super Bowl, March Madness fans are constantly connected to the TV and every social media platform to keep up with updates and show off their team spirit.
According to research, searches for March Madness occur as early as January all the way to April. The searches range from basketball scores to brackets to basketball recruiting as the season starts and ends.
This means that advertisers must adapt to the different searches by changing their content or keywords. Companies also have to keep up with what happens in the actual games, as big scores or wins can be potential moments for fan engagement and advertisement opportunities. Companies must deliver real-time marketing (fresh new content) throughout March Madness.
One company that has does this well is Buffalo Wild Wings, as they call themselves “The Official Hangout for March Madness”. Buffalo Wild Wings uses all social media platforms to reach fans. This year, they have created a series of video advertisements, which can obviously be found on Youtube, that they will air during “relevant” times during March Madness. “Each one is similarly designed to highlight the difference in experiences fans encounter enjoying the game at home compared to visiting a Buffalo Wild Wings location. Those experiences, B-Dubs says, will include comedic #WingWisdom on things like the proper way to fill out a tournament bracket, the Sweet 16, bandwagon fans, overtime, and the finals.” They also employ their hashtag tactics (#WingWisdom and #Wingvite) throughout all their social media sites to make content easily sharable and clickable.
Given that there are 68 teams that compete, by individually targeting different teams and their fans, companies can drastically increase brand awareness. Nike is a great example of analyzing and realizing their different audience members. In 2013 they came out with ads that targeted each school, such as the image below. Other great examples of their ads for different schools can be found here.
But of course you might have read through all this so far and thought, “What about the brackets?!” As many of you know, it is nearly impossible to create the exact bracket. “A task that has never been done and some say have odds as high as 1 in 9.2 quintillion.” But what makes the brackets such a marketable event is that companies can either create a spin-off of the bracket challenge to market their own products or create giveaways and prizes for the best brackets submitted. Below are a few examples of the different types of companies using this tactic.
I think one important note to remember though, is that companies should remain neutral in their advertisements or they may lose support from certain fans. If companies show bias towards certain teams or a certain team, they may be put under social media scrutiny and may even receive heavy backlash from fans.
What I found most interesting through my research is that one website, Prime Visibility, analyzed Social Media conversations across Twitter & Facebook throughout the 2014 & 2015 college basketball season to help make their bracket picks. “Whichever team had the highest volume of positive mentions on Social Media throughout the entire season won their respective matchup.” Below is the bracket pictured on their website. I’m interested to see how their bracket does and if using social media can help predict the future wins!
Which companies do you think do a good job with advertising during March Madness and why?
But most importantly, what does your bracket look like and who do you think will win this year’s national championship title?