March Madness is not only a great time for sports fans, but a great time for marketers as well. Over the years, the NCAA tournament has grown into a huge event watched by millions of fans, both on television and on the web. Marketers eager to connect with both dedicated and casual college basketball fans have a huge opportunity to do so in the coming weeks.
CBS Sports really impressed me last year with their March Madness coverage. You could stream every game online and the online commercial breaks were well done with video ads corresponding to the video player’s skin and companion banners. While I’m sure CBS will have coverage again this year, the first marketing message I received about the tournament was not from CBS Sports, but from Miller Lite and Facebook.
Miller Lite sent an email out on Monday announcing their new March Madness Bracket Challenge. Selection Sunday isn’t until this upcoming Sunday, but I guess they wanted to get a jump on all those other requests people get to fill out brackets. Here’s how the ML/FB Bracket Challenge looks and works:
First, you set up your group name and details, then invite your friends. There are some other things you can do on the page, but none of it really interested me. I was all set to invite most of my friends, but I ran into a major flaw; you can only invite 16 friends per day!
This is a huge problem and one I hope Miller Lite knew about before going into this project. It severely limits the opportunity for this application to be passed around by friends. Plus, it’s way more fun to have 200 people in your pool than 16. They must know this is a problem because they even acknowledge the issue with a disclaimer, “Why are my invites limited? Facebook sets a limit on how many invitations you can send. This limit can change at any time, so check back for updates!”
Facebook and Miller Lite have also enlisted Sports Illustrated and AP to provide an RSS feed of articles related to the tournament. This is another smart move and makes the application that much more interesting and useful. When you click on an article, you stay in the framework of the application, so you don’t have to leave Facebook and the Miller Lite ads stay with you.
Last year, branded Facebook apps were all the rage, but few companies really did them well. The Miller Lite Bracket Challenge application is a great example of why and when a branded Facebook application can be useful and fun while still providing strong exposure and branding for a company. Well done Facebook, now you just need to fix this so we can send it to all of our friends at once.
Do you think you are up to the challenge? Would you like to join the Media Works Bracket Challenge? If so, just leave a comment and we’ll send you an invitation.