SBD/March 18, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Brands Conducting Careful Ambush Marketing Around March Madness, Avoiding Trademarks

With March Madness “just getting under way, several savvy marketers already are trying to get a digital piece of it without the huge expense of sponsorship or in-game advertising,” according to Bruce Horovitz of USA TODAY. Brands including Pizza Hut, Hormel's Spam and Hooters are “trying to link with the social and cultural buzz of the tournament -- but are carefully stepping around any legal issues by avoiding the use of trademarked terms such as ‘March Madness’ or ‘Final Four’ in their marketing.” Pizza Hut is “offering college basketball fans, who sign up in advance, the chance to win a coupon for a free medium pizza with one topping ($8 value) if all four No. 1 seeds in the tournament advance to the semi-finals in Atlanta.” Hormel's Spam has a YouTube video of "Sir Can A Lot," a character “who runs around screaming that he can't get over ‘the madness of March.'" Hooters is “offering downloadable deals during the tournament that it has dubbed Hooters Hooky basketball coupons” (USA TODAY, 3/18). Meanwhile, NCAA sponsor Domino's Pizza is offering 50% off all pizzas ordered online at regular price. The deal, which is only available through digital ordering channels, includes a code that must be entered at checkout. The promo runs through Sunday (Domino's Pizza).

CHARLES IN CHARGE: CDW has launched an extension of its "People Who Get IT" campaign featuring TNT's Charles Barkley. The campaign is entitled "Winning on the Road" and features an ad that began airing this weekend through radio, print and digital media on top of national TV spots. The TV ads will be shown during college basketball games on CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV. Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago, developed the campaign (CDW).

A BILLION AND COUNTING: USA TODAY’s Horovitz cites data from research firm Kantar Media that shows total TV ad revenue for the NCAA tournament “surpassed $1 billion for the first time” last year. Kantar Media “expects it will only get bigger this year on CBS and TBS broadcasts.” No other league's postseason "has hit" the $1B plateau. Ad prices for the NCAA championship game this year "will hit about" $1.4M per 30-second slot (USA TODAY, 3/18).
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