One of the best events on the sporting calendar is being transformed in the way people consume it. That includes March Madness marketing – the way advertisers are marketing their products through the games.
The March Madness odds swiftly change once the field of 68 teams is set. Then it will take three weeks to leave one team standing with a champion crowned. That is why it is one of the best events, though the first weekend is the best weekend.
Games are broadcast with overlapping start times, generally 30 minutes apart, so that there is always some sort of action going on. It is one of the least productive weekends because of all the action occurring.
But that weekend is often not great for advertisers because people can channel surf and find other action going on. So they have to find unique ways to market their products, and new legislation has helped the cause.
A New Era
Beginning July 1, 2021, college athletes were able to profit from their name, image, and likeness. Some thought March Madness would be the best way for athletes to exploit this and stay true to the pureness of the rule.
That came to fruition during the 2022 March Madness event. As St. Peter’s went from relatively unknown to the Elite Eight, they gained plenty of attention. The Peacocks slayed giants in Kentucky and Purdue along the way.
Star guard Doug Edert was able to benefit. The sharpshooter, who donned a mustache, headband, and floppy hair, was starring in Buffalo Wild Wings commercials before the tournament was over. That is the purest form of legislation.
Other Ways to do March Madness Marketing
But it does not need to be a starring moment or Cinderella run for a player to profit off their name, image, or likeness. One of the best forms of March Madness marketing is to sell their own t-shirts. When they return to campus, an appearance at a local business is a mutually beneficial way for the athlete and owner to make some extra cash.
Those appearances can also lead to charging for photos, selling t-shirts, and making extra on autographs. Or maybe the local business is buying its own advertising space during the tournament to feature an athlete.
Consumers are often scrolling social media during games to stay plugged in. Buying advertising on those social media platforms, and starring an athlete, allows those businesses to meet the customers where they are.
Those commercials that air on TV? It may be even more valuable to buy a sponsored post for a certain duration on Twitter and be able to target a particular demographic.
Even the teams who get their university commercials in production have resources that they dedicate to advertising and creating content. This includes March Madness marketing. The athletics creative teams send their content online primarily on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter.
Facebook generally deals with middle- and older-aged adults, while Instagram and TikTok are geared toward younger demographics. Twitter is a nice medium that can hit dedicated sports fans and those connected to the university.
It is difficult to create live content off of highlights, or even those from the season, due to the broadcasting rights that are very strict about using the content elsewhere. Taking a player to the local park or rec center to record footage is a way around that.
Though players can not wear their university logo to benefit from their name, image, and likeness, the businesses can create the same colored gear to promote their products with the athletes. There are also different ways to incorporate video to get to know players and their business interests.
Put Them to Work
Popular chicken chain Raising Cane’s has done a great job of marketing with national champions. Putting Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett IV to work at the drive-thru and at the counter to take orders from customers was beneficial because there were long lines of people wanting to meet Bennett.
Similarly, a car dealership could bring in an athlete and have them be a salesperson on test drives to give customers an opportunity to hang out with the athlete. But time is money, and doing it based on the commission would be tough. But these are some fun ways to do March Madness marketing and engage different audiences.