5 March Madness Marketing Trends You Should Know About

By Henley Worthen · March 21, 2023

5 March Madness Marketing Trends You Should Know About

As the first week of March Madness heats up, so too do the advertising antics that always add an extra dash of entertainment to the month-long college basketball tournament. 

In this article, we’ll dish the details of all the jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring, and downright outrageous ad campaigns and social trends we’ll see during March Madness 2023.

Buckle up — this is gonna be a fun one. 

1. Buick is running a campaign to promote the women’s basketball division with their #SeeHerGreatness campaign. 

The #SeaHerGreatness campaign will be run across all March Madness streaming options featuring epic moments from women’s college basketball. When the content is clicked on, it will direct fans towards this year’s live women’s basketball games. 

But why is Buick getting involved in women’s basketball? Molly Peck, Chief Marketing Officer for global Buick and GMC told Front Office Sports  “As the automotive brand with the highest percentage of female buyers, Buick has an inherent responsibility to advocate for women’s rights and equality.”

Last year, Buick ran the same campaign during March Madness and it was a slam dunk! Tubular’s social video analytics indicate the car brand’s viewership skyrocketed from only 1,500 views on TikTok in February to over 20 million views in March (for reference, that’s more people than the entire population of New York City!)!

Gender inequality has been a hot topic in the basketball world for quite some time as viewers tend to watch more men’s games, advertisers spend more, and male athletes are paid more. Buick’s #SeeHerGreatness campaign celebrates female athleticism and promotes the just as competitive and exciting women’s March Madness. With this play, Buick hopes to draw more eyeballs to the often overlooked tournament and become part of an important conversation.

We have seen that campaigns that lean into social causes have been shown to improve overall brand positioning. See how other companies utilized for-good-campaigns to encourage massive amounts of user-generated-content in our 2023 Social Trends report. 

2. Nissan Partners to Push TikTok’s Version of BeReal


All social platforms have their own distinct purposes for March Madness viewers. Twitter is a never-ending live feed of reactions and clips, while TikTok has historically been where game highlights and curated content lives – until this year.

Nissan and its “Road 2 The Final Four” campaign is the first major brand to use the new TikTok Now feature that mimics BeReal, encouraging fans to post live videos during the college basketball tournament.

Similar to the more recent BeReal app, TikTok Now prompts users to post their current environment or activity at a random time each day. During March Madness, TikTok Now will align its daily posting prompts with the “key moments” of March Madness to amplify authentic college basketball content on the platform.

Fans who then upload those photos or short videos to Instagram will be entered for a chance to win tickets to the Final Four of next year’s tournament – win win. Allyson Witherspoon, VP and Chief Marketing Officer for Nissan U.S told AdAge that the car brand, “worked with TikTok several months in advance to ensure that ‘Now’ notifications will get pushed out across America during the games—something no brand has done before.”

This move will help TikTok to move more into the live show rather than being a platform reserved for curated game highlights and reaction videos. 

3. Snapchat just entered the room

Time Warner’s Turner Sports and the National Collegiate Athletic Association just  struck a deal with Snapchat to target Millenial users in a fresh, new way. This deal is a move to provide user-generated content during the March Madness basketball tournament. 

In recent years, Snapchat has not had the rights to broadcast game highlights and content like other apps. But Snapchat, much like Twitter, is becoming a news and broadcasting platform in its ownright. This year, Snapchat will be able to record and report live experiences at the games, allowing people who are not at the game to feel they are apart of the crowd.

Will fans jump on board and use the app to share memorable moments? Only time will tell as the 2023 tournament progresses, but advertisers should stay tuned into this space to identify new ways to reach potential audiences.

4. Rise of NIL in College Sports: (Name Image Likeness)

Since the NIL policy was passed, players and marketers have been exploring out different partnership methodologies. College athletes are a different breed than professional athletes and brand partnerships are a new territory for many of them. But first, let’s discuss the perks.

When it comes to working with college athletes, local campaigns are the name of the game. These college players are iconic regional heroes which makes them ideal for wins on a local scale. We’ve seen some food chains, clothing brands, and even AT&T taking on college basketball partnerships.

The cons? Well to start, college athletes are newbies when it comes to professional partnerships. Brands exploring this unchartered territory have recommended providing talking points and content tips. Another obstacle is college, itself. These athletes are full time students, athletes, and now… content creators? Scheduling has posed an issue so starting before season is best practice. 

Clemson is proactively doing its part to aid it’s athletes in forming more effective brand partnerships. They’ve built the Clemson Athlete Branding center (CAB) where athletes can go photograph and film content, record audio, and learn content creation techniques all in a professional quality studio. Check out their new CAB facilities here

5. Twisted Tea Cuts Through the Clutter with Ironic Advertising

It wouldn’t be March Madness without a little bit of shock factor. Everyone’s favorite spiked tea brand, Twisted Tea, has launched a line of March Madness undies known as their vasectomy underwear. 

What does March Madness have to do with tying the ole tubes? Twisted Tea representatives reported that vasectomies increase 30% every year in the month of March and decided to capitalize on it. The thinking is that men across America time their surgery and recovery with the college basketball tournament so that they’ll have something to keep them entertained. 

Why use an ice pack to relieve the pain when you could wear Twisted Tea underwear that holds two cold 12-ounce cans of spiked tea?

All in all, campaign aligned product launches have been limited throughout the pandemic, so we’re excited to see that trends like this are back (even if they are a little outrageous).

Buzzerbeaters and exciting game upsets aside, March Madness 2023 is on track to be an exciting month of advertising genius.

We’re already seeing for-good-campaigns, twisted product launches, social app advancements, and college athlete partnerships setting a new standard. As we enter the Sweet Sixteen later this week, we will see what else advertisers have in store.

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