Banking on Bracketology

Even if you’re not a fan of college basketball, you’ve likely heard friends and colleagues exclaim about their “busted brackets” as of late. The NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, billed as “March Madness” runs throughout the month of March and is one of the most popular spring sporting events. The tournament begins with 64 teams and ends with the championship game in April. Part of the fun of March Madness, is Bracketology, the science of pitting teams against each other to predict the outcome of the tournament. It gets pretty serious–billionaire Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway even offered $1 billion to whoever fills out the perfect bracket.

Where does Bracketology intersect with IMC? The answer lies in the “good hands” of Allstate. 2014 is the insurance company’s third year as official sponsor of the NCAA tournament. This year, Allstate’s antagonistic character, Mayhem, is breaking brackets in a series of Tweets, Facebook updates, and Vines. While Mayhem is infamously known for causing car wrecks and burglaries, the Leo Burnett-created “March Mayhem” campaign makes light of Bracketology. Watch as Mayhem breaks, bends, and even blends busted brackets.

March is Mayhem

“March Mayhem” is Allstate’s social media component of its NCAA tournament campaign. During TV coverage of the tournament, the company sponsors the “Good Hands Play of the Game” and is rolling out increased advertising for its homeowners insurance. Pam Hollander, Allstate’s senior IMC director, points out that the campaign goes on as the tournament progresses, taking into account how different teams perform in the tournament. She says the campaign features direct engagement with fans. Mayhem acts as a direct engagement tool to connect and learn more about Allstate’s social media-savvy audience. With Mayhem, interpersonal communication takes place in an ad campaign, personifying the brand’s relationship with the consumer.

Mayhem isn’t the only insurance character with social media presence. Representing insurance companies big and small: the Gecko, Flo, Jake, and J.J. Hightail each interact with their Twitter followers. One of the strong points of the March Mayhem campaign is how it takes advantage of the Bracketology phenomenon to establish a connection with the consumer. Using a popular social trend in a social media campaign exemplifies the personification of brands.

Do you believe using Bracketology in advertising is effective? How have you seen other brands use social phenomena in their advertising?

Nathan Evers

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7 thoughts on “Banking on Bracketology

  1. I believe that using Bracketology is an effective form of advertising because it is a brand following social trends. March Madness is the big social and entertainment event going on right now that everyone is attached to. People become emotionally invested in “their” team. Allstate has taken the chance to entice these emotions and see what feelings and emotional response it can produce within its audience. I have seen other brands use social phenomena in their advertising. Anytime there is a big social, entertainment or sports event like an award show, movie premiere or even the Super Bowl many companies will come up with very creative ways to advertise their brands. Whether it be somehow connecting it to the game or using the same type of emotions that can be found in the game. This is an effective form of advertising.

  2. I don’t think you can say Bracketology itself is an effective form of advertising. Allstate has definitely made the right decision in making itself the official sponsor of March Madness. Also, using Mayhem on social media sites is a great idea because, as the blog says, it helps Allstate better connect with their customers. March Madness is something that millions of people watch and love. Allstate would have been crazy not to try and be a part of the madness.

  3. I think that it’s pretty effective to integrate Bracketology and March Madness into advertising. There are a lot of people that get really passionate about everything March Madness-related, which could be include companies using Bracketology. I think you are right in saying that they us Bracketology is used to establish a connection between the company and the viewer and I think it does a good job of doing that. To me, this seems very similar to the social phenomenon that occurs around Oscars season, when everybody is trying to pick who will win what award and everybody is interacting on social media.

  4. I believe that Bracketology is a very creative phenomenon to use in All States social media. With so many people’s brackets being destroyed, it is a really great way for Mayhem to converse with followers and to bridge that gap between their brackets and All State. Another big social phenomenon was the super bowl, especially the brands that used that time to connect with their social media followers during the game, whether it was simply to reach out or to poll how the followers may have liked a commercial, etc.

  5. I have to say that Bracketology can have both a negative and positive impact on current and potential customers. March Madness and its hype definitely capture the audience’s attention, however, a person that didn’t receive “his” one billion dollars, or his team was eliminated, could be abstaining from anything involved with March Madness. The idea itself is brilliant, and as people are exposed to the “good hands” slogan there could be an increase in business. I plan to pay closer attention to this advertising campaign and witness this innovative incorporation of basketball and insurance for myself.

  6. Nathan,
    I do believe that using bracketology in advertising is effective. The way that Allstate uses Mayhem in commercials is creative, even though it can be kind of repetitive. Like you pointed out, it seems like most of the insurance companies have a creative character that personifies their brand. Though these commercials may seem silly, I know that Mayhem, the Gecko, and Flo come to my mind when I think of buying insurance. On the other hand, it seems like car dealerships are always doing some sort of special offer where you could win a car. A car dealership in Waldorf, Maryland recently ran a promotion that included a free 2014 Honda Accord if you submitted a perfect bracket into their contest.

  7. Bracketology is a huge opportunity for anyone interested in marketing and product and the means to pay for these advertisements. March madness can be compared to any other great sporting event such as the super bowl where companies pay top dollar for advertising spots. But march madness is different in the aspect that it is a month long thing. Your message can be heard a lot more and for a lot cheaper which makes this a gold rush for people trying to make their products and services known.

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