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Which Brand Will Win The 2013 NCAA Tournament?

Forbes, March 18, 2013

By Darren Heitner

There are three NCAA Corporate Champions sponsors: Capital One, Coca-Cola and AT&T. Each sponsor uses its status to infiltrate its target market through the NCAA Tournament, hoping to capitalize off of an enhanced ability to access and reach the potential consumer and use NCAA logos, marks and designations in the process. As FORBES highlighted last week, Capital One has gone all-in on its television and digital campaign using Alec Baldwin and Charles Barkley as spokespersons, along with an emphasis on its Twitter hashtag, #rallycry. It hopes that its campaign will push Capital One to first place among brands participating in the NCAA Tournament.

According to a report released by IEG Consulting and Kantar Media’s ImageTrack, Capital One was not the winner of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. That distinction was given to AT&T. The report, which analyzed every game in last year’s Tournament, stated that AT&T earned the most value from its exposure during the 2012 NCAA Tournament. It estimates that AT&T gained $11.6 million worth of exposure, more than $4 million of which arising from its naming of the “At the Half” halftime report. ImageTrack’s $11.6 million exposure value accounts for the difference between sponsor identification and a full commercial message.
Capital One's March Madness Campaign Banks On Baldwin, Barkley And Hashtags Darren Heitner Darren Heitner Contributor

The report awarded Coca-Cola second place, with an exposure value of $3.1 million. AT&T and Coca-Cola were followed by second-tier sponsors, Buick, Infiniti and Enterprise Rent-A-Car at $2.5 million, $2.2 million and $1.4 million, respectively. Capital One has some ground to make up after falling behind the aforementioned second-tier sponsors.

“Although these measures provide an interesting way to keep score among sponsors, we have to remember that exposure and visibility is only a small piece of the sponsorship picture,” said Mark Ording, Vice President, Client Leadership, IEG Consulting. “To really declare who did the best, you would have to also look at how the sponsors’ NCAA promotions, social media campaigns, advertising, etc. performed.”

Thus, Capital One’s focus on social media and on-site activation may enhance its résumé in ways that the IEG and ImageTrack report does not calculate. That said, AT&T returns to March Madness after an impressive 2012 showing. Will any brand be able to topple the telecommunication services provider from the top spot in the 2013 NCAA Tournament?