Those who have even a passing interest in NCAA men’s basketball understand the magnitude of the North Carolina vs. Duke match-up. Having played each other over 240 times dating back to 1920, the schools are widely considered to have one of the greatest rivalries in sports. And Wednesday’s 74-73 last-second Duke win didn’t disappoint.
While I understand (sort of) my friend and North Carolina alum’s text stating, “It’s about beating the evil empire, nothing else matters,” the North Carolina-Duke “event” has brand value for consumers well beyond each school’s narrow affinity group. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Consistently delivers on its brand promise – rarely does this game disappoint. Both teams are expected to be great (at least for this match-up), regardless of either team’s record or ranking. And they almost always are, with North Carolina edging out Duke winning roughly 55% of their match-ups.
2. Strong brand ambassadors – alums of these schools include Michael Jordan, Grant Hill, James Worthy, Christian Laettner, Kenny Smith and countless others who are selling the product (basketball) every day.
3. Aggressively marketed product extensions – walk the halls of any elementary, middle or high school in America and you will see the logos of each school emblazoned on everything from hats and sweatshirts, to pencils and notebooks. The brands carry weight, regardless of where they appear.
4. “Co-opetition” – while there may be no love lost between them, each school understands that the value and synergy of promoting the event extends beyond the individual schools themselves