It’s march madness time, and that can only mean one thing— Beers, bro’s and basketball. Yes, its amazing. Even if you don’t like basketball you can’t not enjoy the craziness of the tournament, the agony of your sure to fail bracket, and teams like VCU or Murray State or Morehead State or any other school that could be in Kentucky or Mars, or just not anywhere you’ve heard of. And during this amazing tournament, the NCAA runs a series of commercials that leave you wondering, wait—what the hell was the point of that? Take a gander:
Ok, so…a lot of these athletes aren’t gonna make it as professional athletes, but uh… what exactly are you selling NCAA?
After some very tough research (google) it turns out these spots are actually PSAs, which they have to run in order to qualify as a non profit organization. Still it begs the question, why not, you know, run a PSA for a charity or a positive message that can actually do some good?
From a marketing standpoint, the NCAA should use this opportunity to run PSAs that not only promote a positive cause but help their brand as well. Using charitable activity to improve the image of your organization to further your business interests is by no means a new idea. Just staying in the world of sports, teams are constantly promoting their charitable acts in order to help endear themselves in local markets, and therefore further their positive brand image, engender brand loyalty, and boost ticket and apparel sales. The NBA in particular went through a massive effort to promote their NBA cares activities after suffering many image hits in the early 2000’s. Though improved play on the court certainly helps, NBA TV ratings have climbed steadily throughout the past few years. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.
From a business standpoint the NCAA, which generates their revenue mostly from TV deals and licensing, could always seek to reinforce the main components of their, (in true NCAA style) official brand attributes, which, according to their website, are “Learning, balance, spirit, community, fair play and character”.
Instead of telling us that some of their athletes get other jobs after their collegiate athletic career, why not profile the opportunity that comes with receiving a scholarship and going to college? There are certainly many athletes who, thanks to playing college sports, were able to better their lives and the lives of those around them. Give us a quasi tear jerker about their tough situation growing up, and voila: you have a message that will reinforce the brand attributes above, as well as the positive brand image of the NCAA. Easily tied into the craziness of march madness-the inherent David over Goliath triumphs that litter every March, and the NCAA has a winner.
—-By Ben Malki