SBD/March 15, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Marketers Set To Launch Campaigns Around NCAA March Madness

With the start of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament this week, marketers are gearing up for their “most intensive periods of pitching and peddling outside of the Christmas shopping season,” according to Stuart Elliott of the N.Y. TIMES. Coverage of the tournament on TV and online “will be sponsored by scores of major marketers, spending hundreds of millions of dollars.” Liberty Mutual  will “bring out new commercials in its long-running ‘responsibility’ campaign,” created by Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston. Domino’s Pizza is “making a large commitment to the tournament” as the official pizza of the NCAA. The “first fruits of Domino’s sponsorship is a Domino’s Pizza Bracket competition on the company’s Facebook page.” UPS is sponsoring “another competition with voting at the core.” Print Madness, created by Doner, Michigan, will ask consumers to vote on Facebook “for their favorite video clips of five managers of college basketball teams.” Also "adding to the ad spending is activity by marketers that seek to take advantage of all the interest in the tournament but are not official sponsors." Diamond Foods “is offering two ‘bracket’ sweepstakes” on emeraldnuts.com and kettlebrand.com that carry the disclaimer: “not affiliated with any collegiate basketball league or association.” Applebee’s is a sponsor of ESPN’s online fantasy Round by Round Pick 'Em tied to the tournament -- but “because it is not an official sponsor, Applebee’s refers to the event in a news release with euphemisms like ‘March hoops.’” Meanwhile, TBS, TNT and truTV are working with YouTube “to stimulate interest in online viewing.” On Thursday, the youtube.com masthead -- the large display ad atop the page -- will “feature clips from games as they are played” (NYTIMES.com, 3/14).
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