The 2015 NCAA basketball tournament tips off today, and we’ve got a case of March Marketing Madness! That’s because advertisers spent $1.13 billion in March Madness-related TV advertising last year, and that number is expected to grow. As the country’s best college hoops teams compete to see who will be cutting down the nets in Indianapolis on April 6, brands are competing for the millions of eyeballs watching the games, and CM is here to break down the marketing campaign action:
- This Forbes report details the incredible growth of the NCAA tournament for marketing and advertising, with advertising increasing at an average rate of 8.21% each year over the past decade. In 2014, ad spend on the tourney racked up $1.13 billion, a 1.5% increase from the prior year, which ranks the event second to only the NFL Playoffs in total national TV ad revenue for post-season sports programming.
- Microsoft has partnered with the NCAA as the “official bracket data partner for March Madness,” and has been helping fans fill out their tournament brackets via its Bing search engine. The big brains at Microsoft have created special algorithms to help fans out, Bing has leveraged this data to help fans pick the winners of each game via an online bracket-building tool, according to Search Engine Land.
- Huffington Post checked in with a rundown of the great job the NCAA does in marketing the tournament itself. The NCAA has created brand identities for the entire tournament, including the rounds within the tournament, by giving them names such as March Madness, Sweet 16, Elite Eight and Final Four. The NCAA Tournament’s Facebook page has more than 749,000 fans and 250,000-plud Twitter followers, so they are succeeding in the social real, as well.
- The U.S. Marine Corps is leveraging the tournament to launch a new recruitment campaign, according to the Los Angeles Times. According to the report, the Marines have budgeted $11.6 million for TV ads and social media videos through June 2015. They will gauge social media feedback to determine which of the three new commercials is having greater appeal among the target audience of 17- to 24-year-olds.
- Buick kicked off March Madness this week with its “Bracket Showdown,” which pits 16 trick-shot artists in a tournament-style online promotion on Buick.com. Fans on social media will vote for their favorite trick shots as they go head-to-head, including four-year-old Trick Shot Titus hand the high-flying dunk specialists Team Flight Brothers.
- The NBA is also getting in on the action this year, where for the first time the professional basketball league will run ads embracing the NCAA tournament. A series of ads show NBA stars making big plays, and through the help of CGI animation, reverting back to their college uniforms, according to USA Today.