March Madness = Advertising Mayhem: The competition is heating up!

The brackets are in! For all you college basketball fans, March Madness has officially begun. According to USA Today, the NCAA basketball tournament brings in more TV advertising revenue than the NFL playoffs and even the Super Bowl, reaching a whopping 1 billion dollars in 2012. Columnist Bruce Horovitz says it will only get bigger. Despite your feelings about the teams and the games they are playing, this can only mean one thing for advertisers: the standards are skyrocketing. A 30-second spot during the college basketball championship game is running at about 1.4 million dollars. With a price like that, we can only expect some crazy, entertaining commercials.

Just as many big-name brands come up with new advertising campaigns for the Super Bowl, they will have to step it up even more this March. The credit card company, Capital One, has already begun to roll out their campaign partnering with Charles Barkley and Alec Baldwin as the faces of their commercials. While the ads are pretty funny, I think Capital One could step it up a notch in the creativity department for the big game. Here is a clip of one of their new spots you may have already seen on the air:

According to Forbes magazine, Capital One is also advancing their campaign by adding the hashtag #rallycry to the end frames of their advertisements to keep the conversation going, targeting those passionate bracket participants. I think this is a smart decision, from an advertising standpoint, as Capital One has really kept their target audience in mind.

As for other brands to look out for when you’re watching college basketball this month are Buick, Acura, Dove Men+Care and ING, all of which will be advertising heavily during the NCAA tournament. To quote Dale Buss, columnist for, “Let the madness begin.”

-Julia Tompkins

11 thoughts on “March Madness = Advertising Mayhem: The competition is heating up!

  1. I think it is great that Capital One is putting the hashtag at the end of their commercial. Hopefully this will keep their brand in the minds of their customers even if they aren’t on the screen. I’m excited that advertisers are looking at March Madness with as much anticipation as the Super Bowl. Creative commericals are much more entertaining to watch and in the long run, I think more effective. People will remember the story of the commerical when they are at the grocery store, car dealership, or mall.

  2. Any major sporting event such as the Super Bowl or March Madness must be a marketer’s dream! They have millions of viewers at their disposal to promote their company in a short 30 second clip. Although the cost is through the roof, this form of advertisement seems to be effective. The only catch is keeping the viewer’s attention, and I agree that the standards must be raised. Most commercials try to be as entertaining and comical as possible, but when all commercials try this tactic it is hard to stand out. I think Capital One made a smart decision to use the hashtag at the end of their commercials to create buzz and viral marketing. It allows communication about the product to continue even after the commercial has ended. I was also interested to learn about the companies that chose to participate in advertising during the NCAA tournament. You mentioned that Buick, Acura and Dove Men+Car have all bought air time during the tournament. Cars and men care are usually targeted towards men, so I think it will be beneficial for those companies to have bought ad space since the majority of the viewers are male.

  3. I honestly had no idea how popular March Madness was in comparison to the Super Bowl. I myself am not a huge fan of Football, I think basketball requires a lot more athleticism (not the point). I am a huge Alec Baldwin fan these days. How he has resurfaced and become a huge star in the past few years is pretty awesome. I think his Capital One commercials are hysterical and I am looking forward to the new one. I think adding in an aspect of social media to the commercial is a smart move when it comes to publicity. Getting the “twittersphere” involved could potentially shine an even bigger light on the company’s promotion.

  4. Everyone talks about the Superbowl as the time for market’s to get creative because they are about to recieve the most amount of viewers. Well I was thinking why don’t they try an advertise to the whold world because only America really watches football. What I’m talking about it soccer. It is the world’s most popular sport and every big game their are probably as many viewers than the superbowl. I will talk mainly about European soccer but it goes for every continent really. Soccer seasons in Europe last from August until May with many more games than in football. In England and Spain each team plays 38 games, not including tournaments. Just last year there was a regular game on, but it was against two of the most rivaled soccer clubs, people were calling it the game of the century. Great games occur very often in the soccer world because there are so many teams, hundreds total in the premier divisions. Then comes the UEFA Champions League the most prestigest soccer tournament other than the World Cup. This happens every year and lasts from the beginning to the end of the seasons. Just a couple weeks ago the tournament was in the round of the last 16 teams and two powerhouse teams colllided and attracted many viewers across the world. What I’m saying is there are so many more “superbowl games” in the soccer world that marketers should go into that market, because there are more frequently great games and a much larger audience.

  5. It’s crazy to think that March Madness brings in more TV advertising revenue than the NFL playoffs and the superbowl! Knowing this, I can see how important it is to have an advertising campaign that really stands out and leaves a lasting impression. Although it costs around a million dollars for a 30 second spot, it seems to be worth the cost for companies to advertise this way because of the enormous amount of viewers that watch March Madness. Like you mentioned, since these ads do cost so much to air, we should definitely expect some really creative commercials. After watching this one you included from Capital One, I must agree that I am not very impressed with it and they should indeed step up their game in order to compete with the other ads that will be shown during the games. I do, however, think it is a great idea for them to include a hashtag at the end ad of their ads to keep the conversation going on twitter – that will definitely get them more attention. Overall in dealing with ads though, in my opinion, the more creative the ad, the more effective it will be. Since there are so many different commercials going on during March Madness, we will most likely only remember the commercials that we really laughed out loud for or those that we were really impressed by. I’m excited to see which advertisements come out on top!

  6. As a huge basketball fan, it’s crazy to see the type of revenue that College basketball brings in during March Madness. In my opinion, we are reaching the best time of the year for TV with March Madness just ramping up then moving straight into the Masters. I find the commercials with Alec Baldwin and Charles Barkley are hilarious. Mainly because anything Charles Barkley is involved with is hilarious to me. I really like their idea of adding the hash tag at the end of their commercial. I know during the super bowl that everyone on twitter were talking not only about football, but also the commercials. The hash tag Capital One will be providing will provide them an excellent avenue to knock out two birds with one stone. They will not only be doing advertising on TV, but it will move over into social media as well.

  7. March Madness and the Superbowl have always competed with each other in the advertisement world. It seems in the recent past years that March Madness has stepped their game up with the advisement that they put on television, compared to the Superbowl, which has always been super successful with its commercials and advertisements. It is no mystery how much it cost to place and ad on television during these sporting events, mainly because it is so competitive since millions of people are watching TV at this time. It is a high risk/high reward action with placing an 30 second Ad on television, but it has been proven that it if pays off then you can be extremely successful. the Capitol One Ad that was posted is a prime example of this, they have been extremely successful with their product placement on television.

  8. I think this is a great time to advertise. Just like the Super Bowl, a lot of people that do not watch sports regularly will be paying attention during March Madness. A lot will be forced to watch the games with their families and will be just as interested in the commercials as they are the games. Creating advertisements for those people, as well as advertisements that can create connections with fans is smart advertising.

  9. I didn’t realize how influential and popular March Madness is in the sports world. I am not much of a sports fan but there is no way of escaping the advertising and hoopla of Superbowl propaganda. How can people be so convinced that that is the ultimate product to use only because they spent X amount of dollars just to air their 30 second commercial? The sports industry does have advertising figured out the right way but should it be so pushed into peoples’ faces who don’t even watch sports? Keep it on ESPN

  10. I can’t wait to watch this years march madness, besides the super bowl march madness seems to be second to none in most anticipated American sports events. I am not surprised that companies are paying so much for airtime because of how many viewers will be watching. Like the Super Bowl the commercials during March Madness are surely going to be entertaining to watch. I also think that it will be interesting to see what kind of new and innovative practices will be put into these commercials, be it the link to Twitter in the Capitol One commercial, or uses of Shazam in the military’s commercials. This new integration will be interesting to watch develop; I believe that more interaction between the viewer and the commercial will increase the likelihood that they listen to the commercial and use that product or service. I think that overtime this interactive approach will prove to be successful and will be refined to where it is more commonplace than in commercials we see today.

  11. New and creative commercials are my favorite part about big sporting events, and I’m happy to see that March Madness has become the next big advertising spot. Millions of people pay attention to March Madness, and they’re usually watching more than a couple games in order to make sure their brackets line up. Capital One has serized a great opportunity to reach out to their target audience by adding Charles Barkley to their commercials. It was also very smart of them to add the hashtag at the end. Everyone will be tweeting about the games, and when they see the Capital One commercials and enjoy them, they will probably tweet about them too. This will spread the word to anyone that isn’t actually paying attention and could potentially attract more viewers.

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