It’s Been a Mad March 2015, Baby!

As 2015 March Madness draws to close tonight with the championship game facing off Duke and Wisconsin, we’ve seen pretty much all brackets busted, gametime excitement around the players, the underdogs and the upsets, and more promotions than swooshes of the basketball. With that in mind, let’s take at a look at how some of the NCAA partnership brands got into the action this year.

Burger King’s 2 for $5 with Seth Davis and Kenny Smith

On the heels of its Watch Like A King 2014 campaign, NCAA Corporate Sponsor Burger King is back with a value bundle, two premium sandwiches for $5. Guests can mix and match their favorite premium sandwiches including the new Spicy Big Fish Sandwich, BIG KING Sandwich, Big Fish Sandwich, Original Chicken Sandwich and the YUMBO Hot Ham & Cheese Sandwich all for $5. The value play is getting buzz thanks to supportive TV spots with sports analysts Seth Davis and Kenny Smith. Nothing like bringing in the experts to add some authenticity to the messaging. Word is Burger King will also be part of the experience at the 2015 Final Four by bringing fans autograph opportunities with sports legends, along with free rides in Burger King-branded cars.

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Put REESE’S In Your Starting Lineup

REESE’S is at it again this year, keeping it’s perfect combination of peanut butter and chocolate top of mind with shoppers, with its Put Reese’s In Your Starting Lineup! Facebook promotion. This simple, but engaging promotion, encourages you to create a lineup of your favorite REESE’S candies for a chance to win free product. REESE’S is highly engaged with the NCAA as a corporate sponsor and incredibly visible throughout the tournament with advertising and brand highlights. The brand has also taken to social media to keep engagement going as the excitement of the tournament builds. In addition to presence at the Final Four Friday, REESE’S is a sponsor of the NCAA College All-Star game, which took place Final Four weekend and aired April 5 on CBS. Through its GoReeses.com, REESE’S has created a hub for gameday recipes and its NCAA promotions.

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REESE’S SnackTalk at WalMart

As part of its retailer specific executions this year, REESE’S brought the Snack Talk to Walmart, encouraging REESE’s fans to submit photos of their favorite REESE’s game day recipes during March, with finalists announced at the REESE’S NCAA College All-Star game this past weekend. Viewers were encouraged to vote via Twitter for their favorite to be crowned the winner. Erin @DelightfulEMade was deemed the REESE’s Snack Talk Champion and got to have her recipe featured on air.

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Buffalo Wild Wings #WingWisdom

As the Official Hangout of March Madness, Buffalo Wild Wings debuted its #WingWisdom with a fully-integrated campaign across television, social, digital, in-store and on-site Final Four experiences. From ads starring Steve Rannazzisi (“The League”) to “Basketball Wisdom” studio segments on CBS Sports and TBS Sports to an online Tournament Tracker to engaging in conversations about the tournament and providing shareable invites via social media, Buffalo Wild Wings’s omnichannel approach was keeping its brand top of mind with consumers in a sea of restaurants vying for share. In particular, the brand kept the engagement alive with fans by encouraging them to compete for “B-Dubs Baller” status in restaurant with skill-based games and bracket challenges — guests who participated could compete for over 1000 prizes, including a trip to next year’s Final Four.

PSA for Life Jackets Feels Hauntingly Real

With the coming of Spring and Summer, the weather warms up and folks will be looking to cool off with trips to the beach or to the lake. The teaser above for CLM BBDO’s A Trip out to Sea PSA for Guy Cotten, a French marine equipment and clothing brand, will make you think twice about turning down a life jacket for the sake of showing off your cute bikini on your first boat outing of the season. The interactive site will ensure your life jacket is snug and secured before you ever step foot off land. The Guy Cotten connection is minimally-done, which is nice and feels appropriate given the levity of the subject matter, but the connection is evident none-the-less.

Through the compelling video and interactive site, you, the viewer, will see from a first-person simulation what it is like to drown and it gets real, real fast. On the interactive site, users must constantly scroll their mouse in order to keep above water to reinforce the repetitive nature of treading water. There’s only one way this exercise ends and it’s not being swooped up to safety by a luck dragon. It’s a hauntingly vivid portrayal of one’s last thoughts before succumbing to the deep.

Now, I think it would be interesting to take this already emotional PSA to another level and it could be done through a number of methods. One way I think its impact could be even more immediate would be to display it at retailers selling boats and outdoor equipment. If this site was connected with a brand sold commercially in the U.S., I could imagine a large, interactive display at a place like Cabela’s or REI that would enable shoppers to experience this right next to the life jackets in the store. The point would be made immediately and hopefully, trigger sales and usage of these life saving devices. Another way would be to have lake patrollers who check boats for life jackets cue this up on waterproof tablets during their stops, so instead of just feeling like a fun-day-at-the-lake downer, they could educate people about the realities of drowning to further reinforce the need.

Credits: Guy Cotten and CLM BBDO

The Mall Fountain Reimagined

The fountain at the mall is a destination among the hustle and bustle.  It’s a place of gleeful excitement for children throwing coins (who am I kidding? I still like to throw coins in), a rest stop during a busy shopping trip or a meet up point for friends. Every great mall has a fountain. And now, artist Charles Long has reimagined the mall fountain with his sculpture, Fountainhead, installed at Dallas’s NorthPark Mall. Part of the Nasher Sculpture Center’s Xchange program, Fountainhead is a virtual, interactive electronic sculpture that has dollar bills and coins projected on it, which gives the impression of water as they flow down. A zen-like soundtrack plays in the sculpture’s area. Three kiosks equipped with iPads border Fountainhead, each a donation point for one of three charities: Bookmarks, part of the Dallas Public Library located in NorthPark, Dallas CASA and the North Texas Food Bank. Here, visitors can make donations either by dropping coins in a slot or swiping a credit card. A coin will appear on the iPad that donors can flick towards the sculpture, where it makes a virtual splash.

Without a doubt, this sculpture grabbed my attention when I turned the corner at NorthPark. For as much as the fountain at the mall is a destination, it’s also expected and doesn’t change since they’re typically permanently installed, which is part of what makes this so cool. After soaking it all in, I immediately wondered how could this approach translate into something that brands could build on as a promotional show piece – maybe a giant virtual Brita filter sculpture fountain could be set up in Times Square or a huge virtual chocolate sculpture fountain could rain Reese’s Pieces at the NCAA Final Four. Or perhaps, brands could simply sponsor art in their retail space so that every time someone reads the artwork description or stops to make a donation, their logo reiterates brand recognition.

Again, this sculpture is a cool new take on an expected element in a busy retail environment. The fact that three local charities benefit as a result of the piece is a great bonus.

Video and Photo Credit: Emery Martin via Vimeo