March Brandness Bracket: Which March Madness 2015 Campaigns Reign Supreme?

Buick, Dove Men+Care, All­state, and Acu­ra are our top March Mad­ness mar­ket­ing picks.

Lisa Lacy By Lisa Lacy. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Google, BingPres­i­dent Oba­ma and pre­sum­ably actress and Wild­cat fan Ash­ley Judd pre­dict Ken­tucky will emerge vic­to­ri­ous in the 2015 NCAA Divi­sion I Men’s Bas­ket­ball Cham­pi­onship on April 6. No such prog­nos­ti­ca­tions, how­ev­er, have been made for the flur­ry of bas­ket­ball-themed mar­ket­ing con­tent that has emerged to cap­ture fans’ atten­tion. That is, until now.


Unlike the Divi­sion I Women’s Bas­ket­ball Cham­pi­onship, which also plays out in March, the men’s tour­na­ment is big busi­ness. To wit: Per Think with Google, 30 per­cent of Amer­i­cans – or an esti­mat­ed 90 mil­lion peo­ple – filled out March Mad­ness brack­ets in 2014.

What’s more, media mon­i­tor­ing and mar­ket­ing firm Kan­tar Media calls the annu­al event “one of the largest and most valu­able prop­er­ties in all of tele­vi­sion sports,” gen­er­at­ing  $7.5 bil­lion in nation­al TV ad expen­di­tures from 279 mar­keters from 2005 to 2014 with adver­tis­ers spend­ing about $1.13 bil­lion last year alone.

So, in the spir­it of what could right­ful­ly be called March Mar­ket­ing Mad­ness, Momen­tol­ogy has cre­at­ed its own brand­ed brack­et-style show­down with four regions of themed con­tent:

  1. Trick Shots
  2. Brack­ets and Pre­dic­tion Tools
  3. Ana­lysts
  4. Memes

We’ve looked at which brands have cre­at­ed con­tent in each region and pit­ted their cam­paigns against each oth­er to deter­mine which mar­ket­ing teams deserve a cut of March Mar­ket­ing Mad­ness glo­ry.

And like the roar of the prover­bial crowd, there’s cer­tain­ly lots of noise for these brands to cut through en route.

After a num­ber of ear­ly upsets, mul­ti­ple brands attempt­ed to go real-time-ish by riff­ing off of bust­ed brack­ets. That includes Patron Tequi­la, Tur­b­o­Tax, LG Elec­tron­ics, and even the Buf­fa­lo Bills.

And then there’s all the con­tent that sim­ply falls into a gen­er­al bas­ket­ball-themed buck­et (hoop?):

As cam­paigns go, these are our low­er seeds. What fol­lows is where most of the real mar­ket­ing action lies.

Momentology’s March Brandness Bracket

Region 1: Trick Shots

Pota­to chip brand Pringles is ask­ing fans to get a back­board from retail­er Wal­mart (or to down­load one from its Fla­vor Slam web­site), cre­ate a trick shot video and share it on Face­book, Insta­gram, Twit­ter, or YouTube with the hash­tag #Fla­vorSlam. And to per­haps pro­vide inspi­ra­tion, the brand has part­nered with sports/comedy troupe Dude Per­fect, whose Ping Pong Trick Shots 2 video has 4.2 mil­lion views as of March 21.

Per Top­sy, how­ev­er, the hash­tag #Fla­vorSlam has only been used about 300 times in the past month.

Cam­era brand GoPro, too, has post­ed its own trick shot video, which it is push­ing on Twit­ter.

Amer­i­can auto man­u­fac­tur­er Buick is also using trick shot videos, but ask­ing con­sumers to choose their favorites in a brack­et-style show­down – the apt­ly named Buick Brack­et Show­down.

With 16 videos from play­ers like Trick Shot Titus, Jam­broz, and Dunk­ing Dev­ils, Buick asks con­sumers, “Which trick shots shat­ter your expec­ta­tions?”

trick shots

Win­ner: Buick. The brand has har­nessed not one but two March Mad­ness themes in an inter­ac­tive cam­paign that dove­tails nice­ly with its “That’s expec­ta­tion shat­ter­ing. That’s the new Buick”-tagline.

But Buick is cer­tain­ly not the only brand to put its own spin on the infa­mous tour­na­ment brack­et.

Region 2: Brackets and Prediction Tools

Soft­ware and web ser­vices firm Adobe is ask­ing fans to cast votes on the most frus­trat­ing paper process­es in its #Form­Rage Brack­et, which includes the Legal­i­ty, Work­place, Appli­ca­tions and Fam­i­ly Affairs Regions and match-ups like fill­ing out tax returns ver­sus pass­port appli­ca­tions, as well as health his­to­ries ver­sus driver’s license renew­al forms.

Indeed, like Momen­tol­ogy itself, many brands are jump­ing on the brack­et band­wag­on this year:

Mean­while, Bing cre­at­ed a March Mad­ness Brack­et Builder tool, which it says helps fans make smart selec­tions. So, too, did men’s groom­ing brand Dove Men+Care, which worked with sports media com­pa­ny Bleach­er Report to help fans make brack­et selec­tions using dig­i­tal Instabrack­ets in an effort for Nation­al Brack­et Day.

Dove Men+Care is also cel­e­brat­ing “Real Strength Moments” through­out the tour­na­ment by launch­ing a new spot that it says “high­lights moments of father­hood and friend­ship that tru­ly enrich men’s lives…and con­trast with the stereo­typ­i­cal, phys­i­cal depic­tions of strength that often pop­u­late the media land­scape, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the throes of a com­pet­i­tive sports sea­son.”

In addi­tion, the brand has part­nered with for­mer NBA star Alon­zo Mourn­ing to share “per­son­al moments that have defined who he is as a man” on DoveMenCare.com, Face­book, Twit­ter, and Insta­gram. Dove Men+Care also ask­ing fans to share what #Real­Strength means to them and says the @MarchMadness Twit­ter han­dle will be tweet­ing “both his­tor­i­cal and real-time moments of #Real­Strength rel­e­vant to the NCAA March Mad­ness tour­na­ment.”

brackets

Win­ner: Dove Men+Care. The men’s groom­ing brand has extend­ed mes­sag­ing from the Super Bowl in a rel­e­vant and com­pre­hen­sive way. Although we also give props to Adobe for cre­ativ­i­ty in its March Mad­ness-themed push for its Doc­u­ment Cloud.

Region 3: Analysts

Insur­ance com­pa­ny All­state is also get­ting in on the pre­dic­tions rack­et, pit­ting ESPN col­lege bas­ket­ball ana­lyst Dick Vitale against weath­er prog­nos­ti­cat­ing ground­hog Punx­sutawney Phil in the All­state March May­hem Chal­lenge. In addi­tion, All­state has also launched a May­hem Brack­et Pre­dic­tor Tool, which allows users to pair any two teams in the tour­na­ment to see the win prob­a­bil­i­ty for each school. The site also pro­vides NCAA-themed this-day-in-his­to­ry facts and a chart with sta­tis­ti­cal data on the like­li­hood of each team win­ning the whole enchi­la­da.

The May­hem Brack­et Pre­dic­tor also notes that sta­tis­ti­cal­ly speak­ing, con­sumers have a bet­ter chance of “[becom­ing] a pro ath­lete, [get­ting] struck by light­ning AND [dis­cov­er­ing] your child is a cer­ti­fied genius” than pick­ing the per­fect brack­et.

Dur­ing pre­vi­ous All­state March May­hem Chal­lenge events, the release notes Vitale has “nar­row­ly edged out a vic­to­ry” against the Geor­gia Aquarium’s sports-pre­dict­ing dol­phins and Joel, the Fort Worth Herd’s 1,795-pound long­horn.

And speak­ing of beef, Vitale is also work­ing with jerky brand Ober­to in a bas­ket­ball-themed spot in the brand’s “Lit­tle Voice in the Stom­ach” series. Ober­to is also ask­ing con­sumers to upload their best Vitale impres­sions for a chance to meet him in per­son.

Anoth­er ESPN ana­lyst, Jay Bilas, has teamed up with quick ser­vice chain Wendy’s in a series of so-called “Bila­s­o­phy” videos meant to also push the brand’s spon­sor­ship of the John R. Wood­en Award, which is pre­sent­ed annu­al­ly to the out­stand­ing men’s and women’s col­le­giate bas­ket­ball play­ers of the year, and to remind con­sumers to vote at WoodenAwardVote.com.

Bila­s­o­phy videos cov­er top­ics like team­work, moti­va­tion, geom­e­try, spon­sor­ship, and lega­cy.

Analysts

Win­ner: All­state. Who doesn’t like pit­ting Vitale against sooth­say­ing ani­mals?

Region 4: Memes

In Acu­ra’s March Meme­ness cam­paign, the brand is pump­ing out real-time memes “brought to you by the quick-to-react ILX,” the brand’s sports sedan mod­el. March Meme­ness memes include bas­ket­ball ter­mi­nol­o­gy like Nice Bas­ket and Trav­el­ing, as well as the hash­tag #March­Meme­ness, which, per Top­sy, has been used 20 times in the last 30 days.

Per a YouTube video with a com­pi­la­tion of Acura’s memes, con­sumers can watch the memes live start­ing March 20 on ESPN.com. The brand has report­ed­ly cre­at­ed 103 memes as of March 21. The con­tent is share­able on Pin­ter­est, Twit­ter, Face­book, and Google+.

And then there’s AT&T, which is also rolling out GIFs with bas­ket­ball stars Shaquille O’Neil and Chris­t­ian Laet­tner, as well as a Tour­ney Tips video.

Memes

Win­ner: Acu­ra. March Meme­ness is real-time, rel­e­vant, and has a nice tie back to the “quick-to-react ILX.”


Which March Mad­ness cam­paign do you think will res­onate the most with col­lege bas­ket­ball fans?

Lisa Lacy

Written by Lisa Lacy

Lisa is a senior features writer for Inked. She also previously covered digital marketing for Incisive Media. Her background includes editorial positions at Dow Jones, the Financial Times, the Huffington Post, AOL, Amazon, Hearst, Martha Stewart Living and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

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