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Finally March Madness Applies to Women’s Basketball, Too!

By chance did you watch the NCAA Final Four Basketball? It was an incredible final match-up with Univ. of Connecticut and South Carolina, with So. Carolina the final champion. What a game!

Oh wait. Sorry. Did you think I meant the men’s final? Not this year – it was the women getting some equity and coverage. Finally.

Remember last year’s disparity in how the men’s and women’s teams were treated? The issue caught fire online and the outrage caused an outside review of the NCAA’s treatment of the tournaments. The 200-page report stated that the NCAA “prioritized men’s Division I basketball over everything else” – including broadcast agreements, sponsorships, distribution of revenue, and culture.

Not only were locker rooms and equipment clearly unequal (among many other issues!), but the women’s tournament wasn’t even allowed to call itself ‘March Madness’. Only the men’s tournament could use “March Madness” branding. And we all know how powerful branding is for business.

In response to the report’s findings, there were a lot of changes made this year and you may have noticed expanded media coverage as one of the changes. It seemed as if suddenly sports journalists discovered just how powerful women’s basketball was with audiences.

The final championship game was the most-watched women’s national championship since 2004. The 4.85 million viewers on ESPN was an increase of 30% from 2019. The full NCAA Division I women’s tournament averaged 634,000 viewers/game for an increase of 16% from last year. In terms of hours of TV viewing, it was roughly 4.1 million more hours of viewing this year versus 2021!

The research report also found that NCAA has left tens of millions of dollars on the table due to its NOT recognizing the earning potential of the women’s tournament. Estimates are that the women’s tournament could bring in as much as $100 million in broadcast payments. That’s revenue that NCAA can’t afford to miss!

Think about it for a minute. The math is simple.

More viewing hours means more opportunity for marketing and advertising.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Who watched the women’s tournament? Who watched the men’s tournament? Why or why not?
  2. Show video of last year’s discrepancies: https://youtu.be/ozGknW86DWA
  3. (Optional) Video of the money behind March Madness: https://youtu.be/ubqGb4_iJMI
  4. Discuss how to build and use a SWOT analysis grid: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (internal and external factors).
  5. For NCAA, break students into teams and have each team build a SWOT analysis grid.
    1. Strengths: what is company good at?
    1. Weaknesses: what needs work?
    1. Opportunities: what is going on in marketplace?
    1. Threats: what should company be wary of?
  6. Based on the analysis, what are the issues and risks that might occur?
  7. Where would the women’s basketball tournaments fit into the grid?

Source:  Baccellieri, E. (18 March 2022). March madness faced a gender reckoning. Now everyone gets a pasta station – but what else? Sports Illustrated.; Bachman, R. (15 March 2022). A year later, women’s NCAA tournament has more teams, more sponsors and ‘March Madness’. Wall Street Journal.; other news sources.

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Tattoos for Branding Purposes?

Every company and brand craves a loyal and engaged audience. After all, every day we see company logos on our clothes, cars, phones, bikes, autos, and more items. But why stop there? Perhaps the ultimate sign of devotion might be…. a physical tattoo of a brand logo on someone’s body.

It’s not a far-fetched idea. Tattoos can be images of people, characters, an important quote, a fantasy, or idea. But why do people get tattoos of a company’s logo? Basically it’s about the consumer forging a connection with the brand’s image or ideal. The logo becomes tied to specific ideals and customers are drawn to reflect that.

The man with the most tattoo logos lives in Mumbai and has 442 logos of his favorite brand. There is also a U.S. man with 864 insect tattoos and another man (from New Zealand) with the record of Homer Simpson tattoos – 41. Tattoos show what matters to us.

Recently DealA, a coupon and discount site, looked at the world’s most popular brands in categories such as gaming, media, automotive, food and drink, toys and fashion. Using hashtags on Instagram, the company counted posts tagged with a brand name followed by the word tattoo.

The top five logo tattoos on the list:

  1. Disney – most-tattooed media brand.
    1. 2nd place: Nickelodeon.
  2. Nintendo – most-tattooed gaming brand.
    1. 2nd place: PlayStation.
  3. Harley-Davidson – most-tattooed automotive brand.
    1. 2nd place: Volkswagen.
  4. Lego – most-tattooed toy brand.
    1. 2nd place: Hot Wheels
  5. Nike –  most-tattooed fashion brand.
    1. 2nd place: Vans.

What logo would you choose for a tattoo?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Who has tattoos? What are the subjects? Does anyone have (or know someone) with a logo tattoo?
  2. Divide students into teams. Have each team list what they believe will be in the top 10 logo tattoos.
  3. Show the list of the most-tattooed brands: https://deala.com/blog/the-worlds-most-popular-brand-tattoos
  4. Video with logo tattoos: https://youtu.be/ZX8_MfWj4R0
  5. How can tattoos be used for advertising and promotion?
  6. Teams: Develop a promotion plan that uses tattoos as part of the communication mix. (Can be permanent or temporary tattoos.)

Source:  Herren, P. (11 March 2022). These are the most tattooed brands. AdAge; Perry, T. (8 March 2022). Harley-Davidson, Volkswagen make top ten of world’s most popular brand tattoos. Newsweek.

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Branding in the Metaverse

In an average day consumers see thousands of different brands and messages. And all of them want our attention and money! But sometimes it’s too much and we long to escape all the noise. Perhaps a video game will give us that break from brands? Well, actually, no it will not. In fact, the metaverse is rapidly becoming a new platform for building brands and engaging consumers.

Let’s start with the metaverse. The metaverse is any kind of digital immersive experience on the Internet that is persistent, 3D, and virtual and it is not happening in the physical real world – or is it?  The promise of the metaverse gives us opportunity to play, work, connect, and buy. However, there is not just a single, universal metaverse. Instead there are multiple of these playgrounds/worlds and each has its own access, rules, and membership. If this sounds similar to video game settings, it is.

PC games have already created metaverse playboxes where players socialize with others such as Minecraft from Microsoft. Other entries include Roblox which allows players to create and play across numerous worlds. Another is Dencentraland – a 3D virtual world owned by users who create virtual structures and then charge others to visit. For example, Decentraland held an immersive Metaverse Festival for a music event featuring performances by Deadmau5 and others. Snoop Dogg holds private metaverse parties and offers exclusive NFTs.

Many brands are creating immersive branded experiences as well. For example, Nike has filed for patents for virtual goods and the opportunity to build virtual retail environments to sell those goods. Social media also plays a roll with virtual showrooms, fashion shows and dressing rooms. Other companies buy or rent digital space from the platforms. They can rent out digital land that they own to other brands, plus sell NFTs to consumers to build a new revenue stream. Metaverse Group, bought about 313,000 square feet in Decentraland’s fashion district (at a cost of $2.5 million) for a fashion week in March. Decentraland even has its own cryptocurrency for making transactions.

What should brands do to engage in the metaverse? It’s the same marketing principles as real life: Choose target markets, examine competitors, develop new products/services, and above all – be ready to pivot quickly.

After all, the virtual world is an extension of the real world, isn’t it?

Where will you go to play in the metaverse?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Define what the metaverse is for them.
  2. Poll students: List ideas for placing brands in the metaverse.
  3. Consider showing a video about the metaverse: https://youtu.be/99BnZ8js1_k
  4. Have students explore sites such as The Sandbox: https://www.sandbox.game/en/shop/?collections=26 , and Decentraland: https://decentraland.org/
  5. What are the strengths of the metaverse? Weaknesses? Opportunities?
  6. Divide students into teams. Have each team select a brand and then develop a marketing plan for expanding into the metaverse.

Source:  Alcantara, A. (3 March 2022). Marketers explore metaverse. Wall Street Journal; Balis. J. (3 January 2022). How brands can enter the metaverse. Harvard Business Review; Gunn., E. (2 February 2022). Building a brand in the metaverse. Fast Company; other news sources.

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