Mar 27, 2019

Basketball Ads and Busted Brackets

March Madness Header Image
Brands are capitalizing on the cultural impact of March Madness by developing new creative ads focused around the annual tournament. Including one brand that’s dedicated its entire TV ad budget to this one shining moment.

One week in to this year’s NCAA Tournament and March Madness is still the dominant topic of conversation here in Numerator’s Chicago office. Located in the middle of Big 10 country, the tournament is a great way to get to know your coworkers - from the crazed Michigan fan to the salty alumni of one of the first four out (boo hoo Hoosiers) to the annoying bandwagon fans of mid-majors making their first tournament appearance in 13 years (Go Braves! [why is our mascot a gargoyle?]).

Even those without a rooting interest can get in on the excitement with office brackets, giving fans and non-fans alike a reason to care about the games. According to a recent article by CNBC, these office brackets may be taking employees’ focus off the job:

But across the U.S., all that time spent on sports brackets instead of actual work has a serious impact on the bottom line. In fact, unproductive workers during March Madness amounted to an estimated $6.3 billion in corporate losses last year, WalletHub said.

While office workers across the country may be distracted from their work - brands like Buffalo Wild Wings, Buick, BodyArmor, and Oculus VR are capitalizing on the attention being paid to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship by releasing special March Madness focused marketing campaigns.


Ranking right in with brands you know and are familiar with is the world leader in the manufacturing and distribution of ladders and ladder accessories (bet you read that in a Hank Hill voice) Werner. As the official ladder of NCAA® March Madness®, Werner focuses their entire TV ad budget into this one ad, which has run during March Madness each of the past two seasons.

With the tournament spanning three and a half weeks, advertisers get plenty of mileage out of these advertisements. Unlike Super Bowl commercials, which run during one specific game on TV, these March Madness themed ads run throughout the multiple NCAA tournament games, pop up on other networks/programs and aren’t limited to just TV.


As the tournament continues with Sweet 16 games this week, the only thing occurring more than these ads will be that guy in sales’ constant reminders that he’s currently leading the office pool (way to pick Duke, Chad, so original). So strap on your Oculus VR to enjoy a courtside view while sitting at home eating your Pizza Hut P’Zone, or hop in your Buick and head to Buffalo Wild Wings (just be sure to Uber home if you’re drinking).