Slam Dunk: Brands Look to Score Big During March Madness

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Dove Men+Care NCAA

The road to the NCAA Final Four begins Tuesday with games that will decide which teams will be the last to get into the South and East regional brackets. The playoffs will continue until the final matchup in Houston on April 4.

Along with those games, of course, will come plenty of social media chatter, eyeballs and marketers trying to capitalize on all the attention. “March Madness has grown into the most popular sports showcase for advertisers ahead of the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball post-season contests,” according to the Huffington Post. And Kantar Media reports that March Madness advertisers “spent more than $7.5 billion in TV advertising” from 2005-2014.

Two of the brands looking for cash in on the attention are UPS, which wants small businesses to understand it can help them tell their stories to customers, and Dove Men+Care, which wants to reshape the conventional definition of male friendship. And they certainly aren’t the only ones rushing in, though.

The UPS campaign is called “What’s Your Story?” and will have TV, print and online components. “The objective of the campaign is to further develop our relationship with small business customers—particularly really small business customers who may not be aware of the great print services we offer at The UPS Store,” Karen Kelly, director of marketing and advertising for The UPS Store, told AdAge. “We want to raise awareness of how we can help them market their businesses through the print services we offer.”

UPS is kicking off the campaign with an ad that features a woman who turns to the UPS Store for help with her catering business.

Meanwhile, Dove Men+Care notes that male friendships aren’t always depicted as being the deepest, but research shows men today “believe being supportive and caring are traits they look for in personal heroes,” according to a press release.

So its new “Bonds of Real Strength” campaign features Jim Calhoun, UConn’s former basketball coach, and Kevin Ollie, the team’s current coach.

“When Kevin found out he was going to be the new head coach, he told me that it wasn’t about me stepping aside, but about us linking arms together in a different way,” said Calhoun in the press release. “Being there for each other has always been our biggest victory, and that’s why I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with Dove Men+Care this NCAA tournament season to show the real bond Kevin and I share off the court.”

Others are getting in on the March Madness action as well.

Buick and Infiniti are both NCAA partners and will have their brands featured on the March Madness live streaming app. Lexus has created a contest on Yahoo for its first-ever March Madness campaign. Penske is releasing four basketball-related ads.

Shoe brands, of course, will be showcasing themselves as much as possible as well. After all, according to Footwear News, March Madness “is the fifth most-important selling period for basketball shoes.”

Of course, content providers are happy to provide real estate for any March Madness-related ad. Turner Sports and Snapchat have partnered up so fans can “experience” March Madness in a whole new way—and the brands can “experience” a different way to reach those eyeballs. Everybody wins!

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