How Brands Are Celebrating the Madness of March Madness

With March Madness underway, marketers across the industry are tapping into the buzzer beaters, bracket busters and Cinderella stories that define the NCAA tournament with campaigns some could call “madness.”

Read on to learn how five brands are using the tournament’s excitement and chaos to engage fans and celebrate the season.

Capital One

Capital One This is March Madness - Steaks

Capital One’s trusty March Madness trio is back at it again with a series of fun, quirky spots by DDB Chicago. Samuel L. Jackson, Charles Barkley and Spike Lee (who also directed the ads in addition to starring in them) find themselves in several goofy situations on their way to the Final Four in Phoenix, Arizona. How goofy? Charles Barkley dons a sweatshirt backwards and dumps a bowl of chips into the hood to allow for optimal game time snacking, a buzzer beater is interrupted by a Clapper TV and the group eats “steaks on a plane” in a nod to Jackson’s notorious 2006 movie. Watch all the antics here.

Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut $7.99 2-Topping Pizza :30 Commercial ft. Grant Hill and PIE TOPS

Domino’s introduced pizza ordering with just an emoji, and now Pizza Hut brings the world “Pie Tops.” The pizza chain’s limited-edition high-top sneakers utilize geolocation services to order delivery pizza with a squeeze of the shoe’s tongue. Agency Droga5 tapped March Madness veteran and former Duke basketball player Grant Hill of the 1991 and 1992 NCAA Championship teams to introduce Pie Tops to the world.

Said Yum Brands’ VP of media and advertising David Daniels of the activation in an Adweek interview, “This is one of those ideas that as soon as we saw it, we wanted to buy it. It hit everything we wanted to communicate in this window in a fun, really relevant way. And it was beautifully tied to the tournament and the season.”


March Madness buzzer beaters and upsets make for compelling social content, and Snapchat wants to be there to capture it all. In partnership with Turner, Snapchat will release more than 30 “Our Stories,” worldwide curated Snapchat videos and photos, over the course of the tournament, each featuring March Madness-themed geofilters.

Turner will even encourage TV viewers to share their Snapchat moments on Our Stories in the brand’s short spots that offer special filters.




The official candy sponsor of March Madness, Reese’s is applying a full court press on Twitter during this year’s tournament. Using the hashtag #ReesesForTheWin—which is accompanied by an exclusive emoji—the brand is staying fully engaged with the conversation happening around the games, commenting on bracket busters and live moments with fun, Reese’s-branded GIFs.

Follow along with Reese’s March Madness commentary here.

LG Electronics

Game On with 'Mascots Knock' LG InstaView™ Door-in-Door® Refrigerators :30

If one thing is true about college basketball players, it’s that they work up an appetite. Enter LG’s new “Life’s Not Perfect, Life’s Good” NCAA tournament campaign, which features college mascots looking in LG’s new refrigerator for the perfect snack (wood for the beaver, carrots for the horse).

“Authenticity, and recognizing that life’s not perfect, is at the heart of our brand promise,” LG Electronics USA’s vp of marketing David VanderWaal told Adweek. “We coupled that with the passion points of where our consumer lives, and entertainment, sport and culture are all things they’re invested in.”

The 2017 Clio Sports Shortlist will be announced on April 27th and the awards ceremony will take place on May 16th in NYC. To purchase tickets, visit