Brands in the News

March Madness Advertising

7 Apr 2015  

Last night Duke and Wisconsin battled it out for the NCAA championship. It was a terrific game.

The advertising wasn’t as impressive. Some advertisers ran the same spot over and over. Other brands got so caught up in the basketball that they lost track of their basic task: selling some product.

Here is my assessment of four notable ads.

Capital One

Two Stars

You have to love Capital One’s clever spot about Annapolis and Indianapolis. Charles Barkley is terrific.

The problem is that this ad just won’t work very well. The branding is weak; Capital One is almost invisible. In addition, there isn’t a benefit. Why should I use Capital One? I have no idea.


Five Stars

AT&T was one of the big sponsors of the NCAA tournament. The brand ran a series of spots featuring basketball legends Christian Laettner, Shaquille O’Neal, Dr. J and Clyde Drexler.

The ads work. They connect to the event. Branding is strong. More important, they give us a reason to use A&T; it has the strongest 4G LTE network.

I actually have no idea what that means. What is a 4G LTE network? Do I use one? I’m not sure.

Still, it sounds good; I definitely want it.

AT&T focused on an attribute, not a benefit. I think this makes sense because it is difficult to differentiate on a benefit in the category. Everyone says similar things.


Four Stars

The brand team at Buick has certainly done their homework. They know that most people think Buicks are dull, ordinary cars.

On the one hand, this spot fails because it doesn’t communicate a unique benefit. The message is pretty clear: We aren’t as dull as you thought. This isn’t compelling.

Still, marketers create advertising campaigns to do a job. In this case, GM is trying to get people to at least consider a Buick. With that in mind, I think the spot works.

The effort isn’t the basis of a long-term brand campaign but it might get people to think about a Buick when looking for a new car.


Two Stars

What do you get when you combine Nike advertising and Under Armour advertising?

You get this new spot from Adidas.

It is a bold, aggressive and tough. It also isn’t unique.

Adidas is in huge trouble in the United States. The brand is slumping. Under Armour recently passed it by.

Adidas is clearly investing in the brand. This is an important first step. I’m just not sure that this effort is distinctive enough to stand out.

1 Response

  1. davetuchler says:

    1) adidas spot seems to be classic brand manager myopic (“I’m sure viewers will subconsciously see the 3 stripe logo – it’s everywhere! – and know which players are on adidas contract, so the branding will be awesome”). The branding is pretty weak (in addition to the message)
    2) Final Four is becoming a tent-pole event like the Super Bowl. I found myself wondering why there are so many commercials, and so little of interest. Also wondering about other events (like Sunday of the Masters).
    3) yes, an excellent game, particularly since the right team won

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