6 Slam Dunk March Madness Campaigns to Inspire You

basketball slam dunk for march madness

March Madness is upon us, but it’s not too late to get your company’s campaign together. Interest will continue to skyrocket as the competition heats up!

Even if your company isn’t packed full of sports fans, remember that sports events are an opportunity to engage with your audience, who probably are sports fans.

March Madness is unique because, rather than being a one-off event that takes place in a day, it’s an extended tournament that keeps fans engaged for weeks, so it’s a chance to keep sports fans involved in an ongoing conversation or contest.

This round-up of some of the most inspiring and effective campaigns of yesteryear is sure to inspire and get your creative juices flowing.

Examples of Hit March Madness Campaigns from Big Brands:

Buffalo Wild Wings

Bnb Dubs Sleepover in Chicago

Buffalo Wild Wings offered fans an Airbnb-inspired opportunity to sleepover at one of its Chicago locations to watch the first 32 games of March Madness in a 2-day chicken wing fueled marathon — the ultimate fantasy of more than a few basketball fans. To enter, fans shared videos of themselves on Twitter and Instagram pleading their case for why they’re the biggest March Madness fans with the hashtag #bnbdubscontest.

Wendy’s

#TeamFresh Multichannel Multimedia Campaign

The Wendy’s marketing team went all in for their 2018 March Madness campaign, which included dropping their mixtape, “We Beefin?:”

They also teamed up with Don C, a luxury sportswear designer, to release their line of sportswear:

wendys march madness shirts

They used Twitter with the hashtags #TeamFresh (or #TeamFrozen) and leveraged celebrity influencer and former NBA star Clark Kellog in launch videos and ads. The #2 burger joint’s multi-channel marketing campaign focused on driving growth on its mobile app. They featured many giveaways and offers within their mobile app to encourage engagement and online ordering throughout the tournament.

Wendy’s used music, clothing, influencers, social media to drive growth in a specific, well-defined area of their business. Is there a strategic area of your business that could benefit from a boost? How could your March Madness campaign drive growth in that area?

Lexus

0-60 challenge for a trip to Vegas

For a chance to win a luxury trip for four to Las Vegas, players had to predict which games would reach a combined 60 points the fastest — a clever nod to the automobile industry’s obsession with 0-60 mph speeds.

The campaign ran alongside Lexus’s premium sponsorship of the Yahoo Fantasy App. These 15-second video ads ran on Yahoo Sports and came on the heels of their role in Black Panther, giving Lexus a strong multichannel marketing presence in 2018.

Pizza Hut

Pie Tops Shoes that Order Pizza

 

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Pizza Hut thought outside the (pizza) box for their 2017 March Madness campaign introducing a shoe that features two buttons. Push the button on one shoe, and it orders a pizza. Push the button on the other shoe, and it pauses the game so that you can retrieve your hot pizza without missing a minute of the game. The campaign was so successful they brought it back for 2018, introducing the Pie Tops II.

The marketers at Pizza Hut know that people who love March Madness also tend to love two things: shoes and pizza. What crossover interests can you find between your product and the fans of March Madness? If you can find the right sweet spot, you may be able to generate a good bit of buzz with something off-the-wall but oddly loveable.

Kona Brewery

Lessons from Hawaii

Kona Brewery featured the two brothers in a traditional video ad campaign bringing the laidback vibes and attitude of the Hawaiin islands to March Madness viewers. They launched three ad spots with a trio of suggestions on how to bring more of the Hawaiin way of life to the mainland, hoping viewers would connect that vacation vibe to their next beer purchase:

Heavy Construction Systems Specialists

Most Interesting Project Bracket Challenge

Your company might be in a boring niche, and you might not have the resources to create your own sneaker, so you might be wondering if March Madness is something you should sit out. Heavy Construction Systems Specialists, a construction software development company, launched a March Madness campaign that managed to engage their audience and netted them a new deal. It was an all-around success, proving that even boring B2B companies can craft winning campaigns with a little creativity.

Their campaign was pretty straightforward. They created a bracket system where people could submit interesting construction projects. These construction projects could be voted on to determine “The Most Interesting Project,” proving that any company in any industry can create a successful March Madness marketing campaign.

hcss most interesting project march madness campaign

Campaign Ideas for your March Madness Campaign:

Of course, you don’t need to drop a company-branded mixtape to have a successful campaign, and there’s nothing wrong with running a very traditional March Madness campaign. Here are some tried and true contests that have been working for bars, restaurants, barbershops, and car dealerships across the country since March Madness began in 1939:

  • Traditional bracket contests. Remember that getting all the bracket correct has astronomically low odds, and die-hard fans know this, so make sure you structure this in a forgiving way.
  • A “Guess the Score” campaign. You can keep engagement throughout the tournament by having a contest and giveaway for every game.
  • A “Guess the Winner” campaign. Similar to the “Guess the Score” campaign, you can keep engagement high by having a contest for every game.
  • “Best fan attire” hashtag contest. Create a unique hashtag and encourage fans to post their photos of their team spirit.
  • Basketball trivia contest. Sports fans love to show off their knowledge, so trivia is sure to keep them engaged. Try to find a source of questions that isn’t too easy to source online, so you provide a bit of a challenge.

Ultimately, sports are about having fun, so be sure your campaign is lighthearted, and you’ll get the audience engagement you’re after. If you can drive growth toward a targeted business goal like mobile downloads, that’s great, but don’t forget to put the fans and fun first.

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