March Madness Scoring Big with Advertisers and Viewers

The pressure is always on during March Madness and not just for the teams.  This year marks the start of a new strategy that is scoring big with advertisers and basketball viewers across the nation.  Last April, a 14-year $10.8 billion deal partnered CBS with Turner broadcast System.  This new deal means the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship games will be divided between CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV making all games available without an extended cable package.

This change in game airing has not only allowed CBS to take corrective action to fix fans’ complaints about not being able to pick the games they want to watch but also allows advertisers to maximize their reach and get more for their money.  With a +15% rating growth and an average of 8.4 million viewers for the first week alone, records were set with the highest first week viewer average in 17 years and +18% growth in viewers for Sunday’s third-round coverage.  This +18% growth on Sunday meant an additional 1.6 million viewers in comparison to 2010.

Specifically, the areas of largest growth have been males ages 18-34 with a +40% viewer growth.  This is big news for advertisers focusing on this public.  With bigger audiences comes a bigger advertising vehicle. With this type of seemingly exponential increase, the five R’s of receptivity, relevance, response, recognition, and relationship come to mind. Since males were targeted as the areas of the largest growth, companies can now utilize TNT, truTV, TBS, and even CBS and relevance to gear their advertising efforts towards males between the ages of 18-34.

Someone taking full advantage of this opportunity is Buick. The famous automaker is trying to rebuild its brand image and appeal to younger buyers. What better time to do so than during the NCAA tournament amongst males between the ages of 18-34? Buick utilizes the idea of recognition by recognizing their audience as avid college basketball fans and bringing in a key player from last year’s runner up, the Butler Bulldogs, to help endorse their new brand image. Avery Jukes will appear in one of several TV spots of telling stories of overcoming the odds and hammering through tough obstacles. This is a true appeal to the emotion of the viewers because fans of college basketball appreciate a good Cinderella story, as the Butler Bulldogs were categorized during the NCAA tournament of 2010.

Avery Jukes, who played basketball in last year’s championship game for Butler University, is the founder of Jukes Foundation for Kids, a non-profit entity dedicated to providing food, clothing and educational resources to youth in the United States and Uganda. (GM)

It’s certainly going to be interesting to see how advertisers employ the Five R’s throughout the tournament. Will they use the emotional appeals of a good comeback story? Or will they gear themselves towards a more winning attitude of champions never lose? We’ll just have to see what the Madness of March brings…

-Carissa Niederkorn, Deji Adeleke, Tiffany Evans, Katie Eagle & Anna Kate Babnik