By Kyleen McNicholas 

In the early days of March, enthusiastic sports fans eagerly await the start of the legendary March Madness Tournament.  Little do those sports fans know, advertisers do the same.  Held in the same regard as the Super Bowl and the Summer and Winter Olympics, March Madness provides brands and advertisers with a unique opportunity to extend and diversify their typical audience.

“The popularity of March Madness extends to a broad, diverse cross-section of the population and this makes it a valued opportunity for certain marketers.” (Jan Swallen, SVP of research at TNS Media Intelligence)

Now that we are in the midst of the 19 day tournament, I think we can all agree that this unique opportunity has brought about some highs and lows across the board in terms of spots and campaigns.  The tournament itself generated $738 million in ad revenue last year. (USA Today)  Year to year, brands have been alternating their efforts between digital, commercial and traditional efforts.  The unifying theme seen throughout all ads have been attempting to provide the target audience with a fun experience/atmosphere to engage with the brand.

Going along with that theme, this year AT&T Mobility created a TV and social media campaign that pokes fun at the random luck that is associated with bracket making.  In the campaign, professionals, sports enthusiasts and know-nothings enlist the help and expertise of six-year-olds to create the “perfect bracket” for the tournament.  The insight for the campaign is based on the general idea that winning a bracket has absolutely nothing to do with skill.

Created by Energy BBDO, the spot starts off a little unconvincing.  However, after being mixed in with the rest of the elements of the campaign (associated YouTube videos,, social media, etc.), everything comes together to create an overall unified and effective campaign.

As the triumphs and upsets continue throughout the tournament, let us all hope the AT&T Mobility spot continues along throughout the tournament as well as everyone’s favorite team does.  


USA Today | March Madness Dribbles Down to 6-Year Olds | March 2012

The Tennessean | March Madness Dribbles Down to 6-Year Olds | March 2012

MC Marketing Charts | March Madness an Advertising Bonanza Worth $545MM | March 2008


Written by Ad Buzz

The American Advertising Federation Illinois Chapter brings to you Ad Buzz, a blog dedicated to all things advertising related, from our favorite campaigns to trends going on in the industry.

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