March 15, 2021
For college basketball fans, March is like the holiday season and Mardi Gras rolled into one. It’s also big business, generating roughly $1 billion in advertising revenue. With the shadow of the pandemic still looming, the NCAA has mandated all games be played at the same stadium in Hoosier Country – Indiana. With tip-off for the first games set for March 18, let’s take a look at some of the NCAA sponsors whose brands will be front-and-center during this year’s Big Dance.
The Coca-Cola Company (Tii:KO) has been an official corporate champion of the NCAA for years. Expect the multinational beverage corporation to run a range of promotions, including prizes and sweepstakes related to the tournament whenever the company’s products are bought and labels scanned. Coca-Cola will also sponsor the NCAA March Madness Live App for iOS and the Xbox app.
Expect to see AT&T Inc. (Tii:T) salesperson Lily during several commercial breaks this tournament season. As an NCAA Corporate Champion, AT&T has a long history with the tournament, having hosted previous games at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and block parties. New for this year, the telecommunications giant is sponsoring The Catch Up, a video series that provides fans with a recap of the action.
Part of the allure of the tournament is fan engagement – often done by way of bracket challenges where fans try to accurately predict the matchups and outcomes leading to the finals. NCAA Corporate Champion Capital One Financial Corporation (Tii:COF) helps fans participate through its Capital One Bracket Challenge. The official bracket game of the tournament allows competitors to watch live games directly from their bracket, track picks in real-time and set up alerts for those times when they can’t watch the action live. It also provides options to either compete with friends in private groups or in the overall leaderboard.
Supplemental insurance provider Aflac Incorporated (Tii:AFL) has become a new corporate partner of the NCAA March Madness this year. Bringing a little humor to the festivities, the supplemental insurance provider announced an ad campaign for the tournament featuring actor/comedians Rob Riggle and Lil Rel Howery, along with the Aflac Duck in a faux sports news program titled “the Post-Pain Show.” The show is designed to bring laughter to fans with busted brackets or whose favorite team was eliminated from the tournament.
The official hamburger of NCAA March Madness, The Wendy’s Company (Tii:WEN), the No. 2 quick-service restaurant in the U.S., is using the March Madness platform to hype its breakfast offerings. Though announced in early 2020, the ensuing pandemic helped drown out Wendy’s big rollout. In a smart marketing move, this year’s commercials will feature Reggie Miller, an NBA Hall of Famer and former Indiana Pacers star.
With last year’s tournament canceled, expect college basketball fans to be extra engaged this year. And these brands will take advantage of the big stage to sell products and boost sales.
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