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A Peek Inside March Madness®

“March Madness” is one of the most powerful brands in college sports. It’s even trademarked. And, it’s hard to find someone who isn’t at least a casual fan. After last year’s tournament was canceled due to the pandemic, this year’s tournament has made quite the rebound. According to research compiled by WalletHub, corporate productivity losses during March Madness are expected to exceed $3 billion – this is madness indeed. What is it about the tournament and the brand (the Twitter account for @MarchMadness has 1.5MM followers and Instagram 800,000 followers), which dates back to 1939, that captivates our attention?

Blue chip brand involvement – Despite the absence of Duke and Kentucky in this year’s men’s tournament, it is still full of top programs. Many of these universities have long academic and athletic traditions, with millions of alumni, non-alumni fans, and media personalities helping to promote the tournament and widen its appeal.

Escalation of digital promotion – Many of the league’s top players, including Texas Tech’s Mac McClung and Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham, were well-known YouTube stars before they even set foot on their respective college campuses. Social media has helped bring unprecedented levels of star power to many players, which helps fuel increasing interest in them and the tournament.

Everyone loves an underdog – For every Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan and Illinois (all number one seeds this year), there are a host of less well-known universities whose teams continue to enthrall even the casual fan. You’d be hard pressed not to pull for an Oral Roberts when they face off against Arkansas in the Sweet Sixteen this Saturday. And every year, the tournament delivers a healthy dose of David vs. Goliath matches to keep us coming back for more.
While all of us at Optima Group enjoy March Madness as much as anyone, we remain focused on developing winning branding and digital marketing programs that help our clients stand out from the crowd – and we remain available by Zoom even if we are watching our favorite team.