Three Brands That Turn March Madness into Audience Engagement


We all know sporting events create opportunities for brands to engage their audiences with immersive content, whether through advertisements, social media posts, or marketing campaigns. (The Super Bowl has become as famous for its advertising as it has for the game itself.) The annual NCAA basketball tournament known as March Madness is an interesting case in point. March Madness occurs throughout several locations and dates, thus making it possible for enterprising brands to build audience love not once but many times. Here are some examples that anyone in the events industry can apply to engage audiences during an event:

Oreo: social media mastery. Oreo earned the praise of marketing experts everywhere for its “dunk in the dark” real-time marketing moment during the 2013 Super Bowl. In addition, Oreo knows how to create social media moments throughout the course of a multi-day event, as the brand has done with March Madness. Year after year, Oreo relies on snappy copywriting and clever images to entertain its followers on social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter, usually by sharing amusing images of Oreo cookies found in unexpected sports settings. Oreo also invites its fans to share their most creative uses of Oreo cookies in a basketball context. The brand features its favorite user-generated examples on Instagram. In 2015, marketing intelligence platform Origami Logic ranked Oreo as the most engaging brand during March Madness, and it’s easy to see why.

Dove Men + Care: being useful. Dove Men + Care has created engagement by capitalizing on one of the most talked about elements of March Madness: choosing your brackets. In years past, the brand has shared information to help fans choose which teams they think will go all the way in the tournament, and which will fall by the wayside. Dove shares its own top picks and polls its fans to share their own. In addition to sharing information, Dove surprises its followers on social media by giving shout-outs to fans who submit their bracket choices to Dove. By creating a campaign around the art and science of choosing brackets, Dove demonstrates an understanding of one of the reasons March Madness appeals to so many people.

Allstate: winners and losers. Ultimately, March Madness is about the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat. Allstate is among the brands that understand how emotional March Madness can be for fans who track the success or failure of the teams they identify with. During the 2015 NCAA tournament, Allstate dedicated a war room of staffers who watched the outcome of each game and then posted Vine videos to comment on who won and lost. Allstate also unleashed a fictional character, Mayhem, a villain who took delight in upsets. Allstate had created Mayhem years ago as a humorous personification of life’s unexpected disasters. As of February 2016, Mayhem has 61,000 followers on Twitter. Having Mayhem celebrate bracket-busing defeats was a perfect way for Allstate to apply an already-existing corporate mascot to a cultural phenomenon with a pre-built audience.

Allstate, Dove Men + Care, and Oreo all provide lessons for anyone in the events industry. Their use of social media, ability to create visual stories, and creation of real-time content are all best practices that apply to events. The most effective events do far more than share one-way information. They engage an audience by building off an event (in this case, several events consisting of basketball games) to react to the emotions of the audience itself.

For a complimentary 30-minute consultation on how to build your brand and inspire an audience through events and communications, please contact Brian Duffy by calling 630.427.4235 or by emailing

Image source:


One thought on “Three Brands That Turn March Madness into Audience Engagement

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s