March Madness Marketing Roundup

March Madness is upon us, which means that brands are geared up and ready to blast viewers with relevant campaigns. With an average audience of 10.7 million per game in 2013, this year’s March Madness tournament is shaping up to be the little pot of marketing gold between the Olympics/Super Bowl and the World Cup in June.

Companies like Capital One (one of the NCAA’s three top-tier sponsors) and DISH have already given us a look at their upcoming campaigns via online video—a smart move considering the increase in tournament related video consumption across digital platforms. Last year, according to Turner Sports, which manages NCAA March Madness Live, there were 49 million live video streams, which means people watched a total of 14 million hours of video.

On Sunday, Capital One launched its March Madness campaign: television and online ads that feature basketball analysts and former NBA stars Charles Barkley and Greg Anthony. With an acute understanding of the way people watch, Capital One is prepared to reach viewers who follow the action through live streaming on computers and mobile devices.

“We go where the fans are,” said Chris O’Neill, Capital One’s director of digital public relations campaigns. “There are more channels and avenues for fans to get involved now. As the years progressed, there have been more opportunities to watch the games.”

One opportunity, for diehard fans, is to watch at work. During the March Madness Tournament, catching a game-winning three pointer live trumps productivity. With its new campaign, DISH asserts that its service is here to help. Signing on award-winning actress Rebel Wilson to voice its new animation Hopper the Kangaroo, DISH added a little Aussie humor to its March Madness campaign.

The company has taken it upon itself to practice what it preaches. With DISH Anywhere, customers can stream live and recorded TV on an array of digital devices—which means games will be accessible anywhere at any time. So DISH devised “Bracket Breaks,” for its employees, encouraging them to use DISH Anywhere to enjoy tournament games on their devices while at work.

“Every year people talk about productivity loss at work during the NCAA tournament. With the prevalence of mobile devices, it is easier to follow along than ever before,” said Joseph P. Clayton, DISH chief executive officer and president, in a press release. “At DISH, we are embracing the madness, and we are encouraging employees to take Bracket Breaks. By using DISH Anywhere, they can watch games, and show their love for college basketball without having to cover it up. I will be right there with them.”

Even the White House has decided to capitalize on March Madness. It will use online videos with athletes and coaches as well as social media blitzes to promote ObamaCare before the March 31 deadline.

To keep up with March Madness viewers, brands must be prepared to utilize cross-channel promotional strategies. Online streaming and mobile engagement have been increasing rapidly year-over-year, and if marketers fail to meet viewers on their preferred platforms, advertising efforts may fall short.

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