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Marty’s Marketing Minutia – It’s All About the Money

March Madness, Tiger Woods, and Sergio Marchionne.

by on Mar.11, 2011

March Madness Has Infiniti & Buick as presenting sponsors

As the regular college basketball season ends, America’s college hoops mania begins, March 13 bringing Selection Sunday, followed on Monday by National Bracket Day, the First Four playing on March 16 & 17 and the Final Four wrapping up on April 2 – 4. All will be covered live and then rebroadcast, replayed, analyzed, reanalyzed for mind numbing hours on a variety of television networks.

Fun to Read!

It’s all about the money … naturally.

According to Media Week, CBS signed an 11-year, $6 billion deal for sole broadcast rights to the NCAA tournament. Last year, before that deal had expired, CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting System formed an alliance that eventually netted them a 14-year, $10.8 billion deal with the NCAA. Beginning this year, tournament games will be shown across four networks: CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV, the latter three divisions of Time Warner subsidiary TBS.

Automakers like Buick are betting big on college basketball's big season finale.

If that sounds a little too confusing remember the NCAA has expanded the number of teams playing this year from 64 to 68 with the ultimate goal to become the sports event of the month.  And to get additional bucks from advertisers based on eyeballs watching just happens to be a benefit.

Estimates of the cost for a 30-second spot in the first elimination rounds  start at $100,000 each and quickly rise to $1 million plus by the time the  Final Four games are played in Houston. Historically automobile advertisers have been the go-to-clients and this year is no exception, with the Infiniti brand and Buick taking major positions as corporate partners.

Infiniti’s ad campaign is based on fan participation to drive Infiniti’s donation of up to $500,000 to Coaches vs. Cancer, a collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) that empowers coaches, their teams and communities to join the fight against cancer.

The media release explained the fans role, registered fans at, make picks for each of the 67 match-ups throughout the Championship tournament, including the new First Four™ and the Men’s Final Four. Fans are encouraged to return to the bracket and select their picks throughout the total of six competition rounds. Participants will be eligible to win weekly prizes, including computer tablets and a grand prize of a trip for two to the 2012 NCAA Men’s Final Four in New Orleans. Click Here for all the details.

“Infiniti will once again have a major presence throughout the always exciting NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. We are particularly proud of our ability to drive attention to the inspiring work of Coaches vs. Cancer through engaging fans with the ‘Round by Round Coaches vs. Cancer,’” said Infiniti Vice President Ben Poore. “The more times fans enter, the more chances they have to win prizes and make a difference in the fight against cancer.”  Click Here to check out the four commercials that will be used in Infiniti’s ad campaign including this one for the Coaches vs. Cancer undertaking.

Buick, according to reports will be the presenting sponsor of a new March Madness postgame show to air on truTV and TBS through sponsorship of 13 installments of a half-hour wrap titled “Inside March Madness Presented by Buick.” The program starts during the First Four games on Tuesday, March 15 on truTV, immediately after the Turner net airs the first two games of March Madness.

The Second Round of the tourney tips off March 17 with the 11:00 a.m. “Infiniti NCAA Tip-Off” show on truTV, which will throw to CBS’ Game 1 coverage at noon. Games will be staggered in half-hour intervals, providing viewers with an opportunity to watch more live action throughout the frenetic first two weeks of play.

Inside March Madness will jump from truTV to Turner sibling TBS in the Third Round, which begins Saturday, March 1.  Along with its pregame sponsorship, Infiniti will also be featured in co-branded “Inspired Performance” vignettes during live game coverage as well as a number of “Coaches Spotlight” segments.9.ember schools to help student-athletes in 23 sports.”

The only thing not being sponsored by the car companies is the March Madness bracket betting form pool used in countless offices, barber shops, bars and other venues.  But nobody bets on basketball do they?

Pro Golf Gains Recovering Auto Advertisers

Tiger is back, and so is Cadillac.

Once upon a halcyon time, golf and televised golf was sacred to automotive advertisers and their dealers. Auto marquees in tournament names included Buick, Cadillac, Ford, Honda, Chrysler, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz. Every network bid on televising these events which guaranteed deep pocket sponsorship, product placements and nice pro-am events for execs and dealers.

Then the recession claimed numerous victims as auto advertisers reassessed the huge amounts they were spending on professional golf matches and the so-so ROI which resulted. Even pro golfers who wore shirts are caps bearing car logos vanished.  Why, Buick even gave up Tiger Woods when he was still at the top of his game – and before his marital problems led other advertisers to move on, as well.

As Tiger’s problems mounted, televised golf ratings sunk lower than the Dow Jones average or GM stock prior to its bankruptcy. Sales of golf equipment dropped. Country club memberships were plunging. Golf was literally in hiding without a Tiger-quality super star or major rivalry to attract fans to televised broadcasts that were, frankly, boring without him.

But it seems professional golf tournaments are reemerging as a viable advertising medium. BMW has its own event that’s part of the season-ending FedEx Cup, which is the equivalent of golfdoms millionaires play-offs with still millions more ay stake. Hyundai picked up the season starting tournament this year, in Hawaii, appropriately enough titled the Hyundai Tournament of Champions (and formerly the Mercedes-Benz Tournament of Champions). Honda has kept its sponsorship of the Honda Classic. Kia sponsors its own tournament for lady golfers called naturally, the Kia Classic.

And now GM is back in the car and golf sponsorship business as the Cadillac division is now the sponsor of the World of Golf Championship Series, a tournament that started this past Thursday and runs through Sunday, March 13 – just as March Madness gets underway. The PGA Tour confirmed last week that the Top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking have all committed to compete in the Cadillac Championship — and that includes Tiger Woods.

“We’re pleased to have an elite field vying for the title at the Cadillac Championship,” said Don Butler, vice president of Cadillac marketing.  At the venue of the event Cadillac has set-up various displays, interactive games and of course golf instructions.

Chrysler’s Ad Budget is Growing, Growing, Growing, Growing

F*&@! As Bryan Laviolette, my colleague on TheDetroit, reports this morning, it pays to be careful what you Tweet.  Unfortunately, one of the minions at New Media Strategies, Chrysler’s social ad agency, learned that the hard way – after sending a foul-mouthed Tweet that has now cost him his job and the agency its lucrative account.

Despite the embarrassing event, Chrysler is clearly not pulling back on its ad efforts, whether via Twitter or televion.

Based on documents filed with the SEC, Chrysler is increasing its advertising budget by an enormous 68%, from last year’s $1.7 billion to a stratospheric $2.9 billion, which is one helluva lot of zeros ($2,900,000,000)! Hmm, put into easy to understand calculations, I just paid $3.52 per gallon for gasoline (projected to reach $4.32 by end of 2011) getting a 68% increase that would mean at gallon would cost $5.955.

I’ve never, ever heard of such a huge increase in an advertising budget.  Call me cynical or better yet skeptical, but just a couple of years ago wasn’t Chrysler in the deep do-do of bankruptcy? And isn’t it still mired with court and SEC oversight?  Granted significant changes in top management, managerial style, vast improvements in car engineering, styling and quality, one amazing commercial and the need to launch and reintroduce a, dozen and a half vehicles over the next year is the reason for the increase in marketing budgets.  And let’s not forget the oft-hinted plans to have an IPO in the near future.

Since everyone reading this is a stockholder (assuming you pay taxes) in Chrysler, let’s hope Sergio Marchionne continues to approve Oliver Francois’ audacious advertising campaigns. They’re fun to watch and it seems like they’re working too. And isn’t that nice for the beleaguered company.

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