Marketing Madness: 5 Brands Winning the Tournament

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By Alex Altman
When Little Caesars marketers pitched the idea of giving away free lunch to every customer if a 16-seed defeated a 1-seed during the NCAA Tournament, they surely sold it as a risk-free proposition

A 16-seed couldn’t beat a one. Never had it happened. Never could it happen.

But when UMBC defeated Virginia in what will surely go down as the greatest upset in college basketball history, the Hot N’ Ready chain still probably felt the like biggest winner of all.

Just 24 hours after announcing the promotion on Twitter, Little Caesars had already received more than 15,000 Likes and Retweets combined. And that’s not even accounting for the additional impressions it scored when the story was picked by publications like Sports Illustrated, USA Today and the Detroit Free Press.

While Little Caesars has already won March Madness, here are four other companies benefitting from their own innovative campaigns.

Wendy’s: To increase mobile engagement — and remind consumers that its chief rival’s burgers are frozen — the snarky fast good giant created a #TeamFresh social campaign that encourages fans to participate in its interactive bracket and download its mobile app for exclusive offers. The campaign was undoubtedly inspired by the mobile ordering trend that’s taking over the fast food industry.

Buffalo Wild Wings: The self-proclaimed “Official Hangout for NCAA March Madness,” B-Dubs is running a series of in-restaurant and digital activations aimed at enticing visits and loyalty. One promotion gives members of its mobile loyalty program a chance to win bonus points based on the results of actual games when they watch at participating locations.

Buick: Hoping to dial up data sales and drive awareness of its vehicles’ built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, the luxury car brand is offering U.S. owners free unlimited data for March so they can live-stream all of their favorite games. A smart move, considering March Madness live-streaming was up 33 percent last year, and Buick’s Wi-Fi capabilities (offered on all newer model GM vehicles) are still relatively unique for the space.

Pizza Hut: The pizza giant’s Bluetooth-enabled pizza-ordering shoes are back for a second March Madness season, this time with a twist. New for 2018 is a button on the tongue of the left shoe that can pause live TV, so you don’t have to miss any of the action when running to the door to grab your delivery. Pizza Hut will reportedly sell 50 pairs of its “Pie Tops II” in March.

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