March Madness – Coca Cola

It’s about that time again. March Madness is back. Selection Sunday was last night and the field of 64 is set. Games begin Thursday, and it is time to start churning out brackets. You believe that this is the year that you will finally have a perfect bracket? Probably not but at least you can hope for the best!  Trying to figure out which upsets will make or break your bracket. Your March Madness pools with your high school and college friends are starting to fill up, and your riding with your hometown team for the 5th year in a row (s/o Nova).


On a more serious note, March Madness has a dramatic impact across all social media platforms. The amount of interactions fans have using hashtags associated with the tournament is ridiculous. Millions of interactions are made within the weeks of the tournament, which provides a platform for companies to gain exposure and promote their brands. The big question for companies is how are they going to use this tournament to promote their business/brand.

Screen Shot 2018-03-12 at 8.37.34 PM.png

Coca Cola is a perfect example of a company that utilizes the tournament to further promote its business: NCAA® March Madness® Bracket Refresh

Screen Shot 2018-03-12 at 8.58.51 PM.png

For the past 15 years, Coca Cola has been a top sponsor of NCAA March Madness. They introduced two new advertising/promotion campaigns for the upcoming tournament.


  1. Share A Coke Campaign


An estimated 185 million people tune into March Madness, making it one of the largest home-viewing experiences in all of sports. Since it is one of the biggest home viewing experiences in all of sports, companies need to develop a plan or campaign associated with the tournament in order to attract customers.


Coca Cola has done just that with this campaign. If you have purchased a Coca Cola bottle within the past few years, you are familiar with this campaign. Coke put names on the labels of each bottle, allowing for customers to purchase the bottles with their names or the names of their friends on them. Now, Coca Cola has introduced the March Madness version, where fans can purchase personalized Coca Cola bottles with the logos/mascots of their favorite teams. They also have made generic labels for the tournament like:  March Madness, The Big Dance®, Sweet Sixteen®, Elite Eight® and Final Four®

Screen Shot 2018-03-12 at 9.09.30 PM.png

Todd Skidmore, senior manager, said college basketball is a natural fit for, a site that allows people to personalize and order a Coca-Cola glass bottle with their name on it, “With these new limited-edition team bottles, fans can now show support for their teams and their love of Coca-Cola all tournament long.”

After this blog post I am going to buy about 3 million customized Villanova bottles to hand out around campus.


  1. NCAA® March Madness® Bracket Refresh

Screen Shot 2018-03-12 at 9.04.05 PM.png

I think that this is a really cool idea that Coca Cola has implemented. Coca Cola teamed up with Powerade to launch this digital promotion. Basically, you have until a certain period of time (usually right before the day before the first and second round games) to purchase a participating Coca Cola product. On the product, there is a barcode that you scan using your smartphone. You create an account on their website, and everytime you scan a new code, you receive a region (East, West, Midwest, South) and a seed (1-16). You are then placed in a pool with everyone else in those respective seeds. You are entered for a chance to win prizes of up to $20,000, and if your seed advances, you are entered to win a chance to go to the Sweet 16 game featuring your seed. Here is a link to the prizes that you can win.


All you have to do is follow the three S’s: Sip, Scan, and Score!

Screen Shot 2018-03-12 at 10.08.35 PM.png


I think that this is a very effective campaign that Coca Cola has implemented. Being a very popular brand, it already has such a large customer base. Allowing those customers to have a chance to win a trip to the Sweet Sixteen and potentially $20,000 all for the price of a single Coca Cola product is a very effective plan. People are going to buy Coca Cola products regardless because it is a very popular drink.


To make things even better for the fans, Coca Cola is giving its fans a free outdoor music festival outside the location of the Final Four. The music festival is three days long, with each day being sponsored by one of the three top-tier sponsors (Coca-Cola, AT&T, and Capital One). Last year, the Coca-Cola Music Festival was on Saturday from 2pm-10pm, with the headliner being Imagine Dragons. Other artists who played on Saturday were The Chainsmokers, Grouplove, Capital Cities, and Leon Bridges.Unknown-2


The way that Coca Cola has used the March Madness tournament to promote and advertise their product is incredible. With all these campaigns and promotions, they are really providing quality customer service.


I’m pretty excited for these next few weeks. Excited to see which team takes the role of the cinderella this year, and which powerhouse has that early exit (Duke).


As always, Riddle of the Week:

Which backup quarterback played his first game in Week 14 and led his injure-riddled team to a Super Bowl title against the supposed GOAT? (Hint: Number 9)


See you in a few!


  1. jennypenafiel11 · ·

    Coca Cola is a great example of a company that manages to continuously strengthen their brand image. No matter how solid of a company the seem to be, they are always looking for a way to solidify their image with different target groups. With this campaign they are clearly targeting those avid college basketball fans. It is a smart move by Coke. With these kinds of campaigns they are preparing their brand for the future. We saw how brands can make mistakes on social media that really hurt their reputation so with campaigns like this, Coca Cola is being proactive with their marketing so they do not have to be reactive in the future. Great example to follow.

  2. kennedy__bc · ·

    I’ve always found it interesting how Coca Cola has managed to stay so hip and young even though they have been around for so many years. These two campaigns are perfect examples of of why Coca Cola has continued to be such a powerhouse in the industry.

    I have noticed that over the past few years Coca Cola has attempted to create marketing campaigns centered around consumer interaction and I believe this style of marketing is the wave of the future. It will be interesting to see how successful their Sip, Scan, Score campaign will be because as a huge basketball fan myself, I still probably won’t take the time to scan my bottle and set up an account in hopes of winning a prize.

  3. danmiller315 · ·

    I think part of what makes Coca-Cola’s marketing campaigns so effective for March Madness is that they are relatively quick. They don’t drag on over an entire season, but rather they really only last for 3 weekends (10 total days of tournament basketball). As consumers, it doesn’t make us feel inundated with commercials over a long period of time.

    Another reason I think this works so well is that you don’t really need to be a die-hard sports fan to get into the excitement of March Madness. Every “Average Joe” can get behind their alma mater or local team for a few weeks just because it’s a fun thing to do and talk about with your friends. This is where I think the limited edition bottles with team logos work very well. Even if I didn’t like basketball, the nostalgic collector in me would still go out and purchase a BC Coca-Cola bottle (if only there was one). I think @kennedybc makes a great point about how this exemplifies Coca-Cola’s ability to remain a powerhouse in its industry through marketing campaigns that promote consumer interaction. Even with its Super Bowl ads in recent years, Coca-Cola is not as focused on selling you a product anymore, but the experience that comes along with consuming its product.

  4. Nice post. I confess that I won my bracket several times (years ago), by just going with the AI predictions for the brackets. Everyone has caught on now!

  5. graceglambrecht · ·

    really interested article. I dont even drink soda and I’m not considering buying a bottle of Coke for the promotion. Sports are a great way for companies to gain traction and exposure, and social media is a great way to gain more exposure for younger audiences. While BC is not in the tournament (also knocked out of the NIT, sad face) I love following my friends schools and my hometown team. Coca-Cola’s brand and Share A Coke campaign are so great because of how integrated your friends and family are in making brackets and following the tournament.

    I also noticed that ESPN has a quite a few sponsors for their bracket pages, they offer your entry into an Acura and an Allstate branded sweepstakes. My bracket sucks (I dont follow college basketball well enough to know anything, I’m also convinced URI will win every year, go lil rhody), but I still join a group and complete against my friends, so those companies will get that imprint from me. March Madness is a great way for companies to gain exposure, and hopefully smaller companies will be able to get on the train.

    Is is weird to answer the riddle? I haven’t decided: Nick Foles

  6. Tully Horne · ·

    I think Coca Cola has such strong brand equity that the NCAA would be crazy not to work with them. So that definitely is an advantage for Coca Cola because they are able to leverage the “Madness” surrounding the tournament and turn it into a great business opportunity. With that being said, Coca Cola could certainly still screw this up with boring, ineffective campaigns…but that isn’t the case. These are great ideas by Coke. I personally would not buy a customized Coke bottle, but there are a large number of super fans who would be willing to purchase one (including you). I also think the sip, scan, score campaign is very smart. It incorporates the brackets, which everyone is obsessed with filling out, and turns this obsession into a marketing opportunity. Finally, the concert, although free of charge, seems like a no-brainer for Coca Cola. They have the money to bring together some of the best musicians in the world and give fans an unforgettable experience. And who will the fans always associate with this experience? Coca Cola. Just another reason their brand equity is strong and will continue to grow.

  7. jjaeh0ng · ·

    Since March Madness is the one of the biggest sporting events in US, Coca Cola is very lucky to have a relationship with the tournament and launch campaigns every year. The Bracket Refresh would be really interesting event for college basketball super fans. For Coca Cola, social media is great platform to promote campaigns related to March Madness. High number of mentions as well as hashtags prove the games are trending topics during the tournament. March Madness marketing would benefit both Coca Cola with increased sales and the NCAA with more viewership.

  8. RayCaglianone · ·

    This was an interesting take on the sponsorship side of March Madness. It’s hard to imagine a sporting event that has more potential for advertisers, other than the Super Bowl of course. Something I talked about in my presentation was the unique engagement that march madness offers, what with the bracket challenges and constant underdog stories to embrace. These stories give advertisers something to latch onto to and offer unique ways to connect to a huge variety of audiences.

%d bloggers like this: