Navigate Research

Industry Insights

As the industry leader in evaluating and measuring marketing investments, Navigate has a wealth of knowledge in the sponsorship and marketing space. This blog shares our knowledge and insights on current events in the sports business, marketing and sponsorship worlds.

Coke Debuts "Drinkable Advertising"

Navigate Research - Monday, April 06, 2015
Each Monday, we will share some great activation practices throughout the sports and entertainment landscape. This blog will serve as a space to highlight innovative ideas and campaigns. Want to have your idea or campaign featured? Send us a note on Twitter at @Navigate_Res

It's no surprise the NCAA Men's Final Four advertising has been a hot topic of discussion amongst sports marketers the past couple weeks. Our last few blog posts have discussed various topics revolving around the marketing activity of NCAA sponsors during this year's March Madness Tournament. With the championship game finally arriving, we figured it calls for one last post on the topic of the Final Four featuring major NCAA sponsor, Coca-Cola

This passed week, Coca-Cola debuted what their calling "Drinkable Advertising" which consisted of a 26-by-36-foot billboard display at the March Madness Music Festival that dispensed free samples of Coke Zero. However, the drinkable advertising campaign doesn't stop there. During tonight's championship game, Coca-Cola will air commercials featuring that will allow viewers with the Shazam mobile app see Coke Zero poured on TV while a glass, also, fills up on their mobile devices. Once the digital glass on viewers' mobile device is full with Coke Zero, they will receive a free 20oz bottle of the drink. 

Coca-Cola has not only developed a first-of-its-kind sponsorship activation with a standard billboard that dispenses their product for consumers to try, but they have effectively tied in mobile and traditional television advertising all in one campaign. While many people are familiar with the Coke Zero product, avid original Coke drinkers may not care to try the healthier alternative. Coca-Cola's clever and creative campaign has compelled passionate basketball fans to not only interact with product both digitally and live, but encouraged them to sample their product with a free giveaway. While there are many successful NCAA sponsorship activations revolving around Final Four, Coca-Cola continues to make their presence known.

Big Hoops Means Big Bucks

Navigate Research - Wednesday, April 01, 2015
Written By: Mark Friederich 

We’re down to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. The last three games will feature three #1 seeds: Kentucky, Wisconsin and the Blue Devils of Duke, as well as a #7 seed: Michigan State. I am sure most of you would be able to name these Final Four. One or two of them may even be in your bracket. NCAA men’s basketball has become a hotbed for sponsors. Everything heats up around March Madness and culminates this weekend. Is March Madness starting to compete with the NFL’s Super Bowl as a sponsorship platform? Not quite, but...let’s examine the potential. 

 The NCAA Tournament features: 
• Three weeks of nearly continuous games (March 17-April 6 in 2015) 
• 68 teams to start with 
• Not just 68 teams, but 68 universities, with 68 alumni bases, including some of the largest educational institutions in the U.S. 
• That’s an educated, affluent and often youngish demographic 
• 3 billion tournament brackets (ok, I made that up) with participants from “experts” to “never-watched-a-basketball-game-in-my-life” 
• Delivered at a time of relative calm in the U.S. sports market 
• Nearly 21 million viewers watched last year’s title game paling against the approximately 114 million viewers of Super Bowl XLIX 


Corporate sponsors are many and include LG (as part of its Home Court Challenge, LG offers a trip to the Final Four), Enterprise Rent-a-Car is featuring employees who were once competitive college athletes in an effort to recruit college graduates, and car brands, including Buick and Infiniti. Turner Sports and CBS Sports have exclusivity to certain media rights, but for the first time in any sport, ESPN is streaming live March Madness games to Facebook. In general, March Madness sponsorship is dominated by automotive, financial services and telecom. The three corporate champions, AT&T, Capital One and Coca-Cola, are each paying about $35 million and more annually to align with the NCAA (not just men’s basketball, of course). 

Incidentally, would you be able to name the Final Four of the 2015 NCAA Division 1 Women’s Basketball Championship (the official Women’s March Madness name)? Well, UConn will face the Maryland Terps and Notre Dame will face South Carolina on April 5th, with the championship game on Tuesday, April 7th -- the concluding event of March Madness 2015. Did you have any of these four in your tournament bracket? Most unlikely since most of us don’t have a bracket for the women’s tournament. Most sponsors, I fear, feel the same way. Yet despite a much lower interest level, despite the absence of hype, despite the half-filled arenas (if even), smart sponsors will realize the targeted audience women’s basketball (or any women’s sport) can deliver at a much lower fee. For example, women’s basketball fans are typically younger, less affluent and more ethnically diverse than fans of men’s’ college basketball. I am certain there are plenty of brands who would love that kind of a target audience.

Sponsorship Activation Blog 3.30.15

Navigate Research - Monday, March 30, 2015
Each Monday, we will share some great activation practices throughout the sports and entertainment landscape. This blog will serve as a space to highlight innovative ideas and campaigns. Want to have your idea or campaign featured? Send us a note on Twitter at @Navigate_Res

This year's NCAA sponsors and advertisers have experienced major increases across several metrics including social media traffic and brand awareness. Some brands have also received advertising benefits without directly sponsoring the NCAA, including Nike, Samsung, and Gatorade. Brands with strong sponsorship activations revolving around the final tournament have proven to be extremely successful in reaching numerous consumers. 

Seventeen total NCAA corporate sponsors paid CBS and Turner Broadcasting anywhere from $10-$35 million to sponsor the NCAA. Of all sponsors, Buffalo Wild Wings has received the largest growth in awareness with their ambiguous, yet quite effective commercials. While many avid sports fans, particularly men's college basketball fans, may be familiar with their neighborhood Buffalo Wild Wings, the brand has broadened their awareness to reach fans that may only partake in watching the March Madness tournament versus all regular season games. 

While Buffalo Wild Wings saw increases in exposure, brands, including, Allstate and Nabisco saw large increases in social media traffic. With mobile device activity being higher than ever, brands that actively participate in social media campaigns are receiving large increases in brand awareness and preference. 

With the NCAA March Madness Tournament being one of the most watched televised programs, brands have proven to greatly benefit through a variety of advertising campaigns and sponsorship activations revolving around the multiple week finale of the NCCA Division I Men's Basketball season.

UPS Leverages Their NCAA Sponsorship for the Final Four

Navigate Research - Monday, March 16, 2015
Each Monday, we will share some great activation practices throughout the sports and entertainment landscape. This blog will serve as a space to highlight innovative ideas and campaigns. Want to have your idea or campaign featured? Send us a note on Twitter at @Navigate_Res

UPS utilizes their logistics expertise in their recent NCAA Tournament campaign. With the goal of getting all 132 men's and women's basketball coaches in the NCAA tournament to autograph replicas of a Final Four court. UPS will ship out pieces of the court to coaches to sign and they will return the signed pieces to UPS. Once the pieces are signed, UPS will display the them into a 24-foot-long replica of the court at the men's Final Four fan fest. All of the pieces will eventually be auctioned off on eBay from March 20th - April 7th. All proceeds will go to the Coaches vs. Cancer and the Kay Yow Cancer Fund

UPS is a great example of taking your company's capabilities and integrating them into a sponsorship activation. Additionally, UPS ties in charitable donations to their sponsorship by integrating coaches and players funds. The company will also begin to launch their "United Problem Solvers" brand campaign, replacing their previous "We Love Logistics" messaging. 

UPS VP/Customer Communications, Maureen Healy, states that as the official logistics partner of the NCAA, launching the campaign around this time made sense in order to reach their target audiences from small businesses to large enterprises.