Marketing Madness: How UPS is Dominating the NCAA Tournament

Take a tip from the postal service as you cheer on your favorite team.

To say that March is my favorite month of the year would be an understatement. There’s spring training, St. Patrick’s Day and the almighty NCAA Tournament known as March Madness. Everyone has his or her own reasoning for why they pick a certain team over another. So while millions of people mulled over various outcomes before the tournament tipped off and tried to predict the big upsets, businesses spent months racking their brains trying to uncover creative marketing strategies for one of the most popular sporting events of the year.

This year hasn’t been a disappointment when it comes to marketing, and one company really deserves a pat on the back. Here are three reasons why UPS stole the marketing madness show in 2011.

NCAA coaches talk logistics: The opening weekend of the tournament received the highest ratings since 1991, and they were also 24 percent higher compared to the 2010 broadcast. Talk about ideal timing to launch a marketing campaign. UPS pulled a brilliant move during the tournament and educated viewers on what logistics means in a courtside manner. University of Connecticut women’s coach Geno Auriemma, Notre Dame men’s coach Mike Brey, and others were featured in commercials that demonstrated how logistics works in basketball. When a player shoots the ball and makes a basket, all everyone sees is the outcome—a basket. However, there are a lot of other things that have to happen in order for that basket to go in. For example, there are five players involved and different plays are called. Those are all factors that determine if a ball reaches its final destination.

UPS did a phenomenal job explaining what logistics is on a level that sports fans can relate to. If a company is grappling with educating customers on a service or product, brainstorm opportunities to make it easier for those individuals to understand the big picture on their terms. Now, fans have a better grasp of what logistics means because the company incorporated prominent basketball coaches into their commercials for one of the most popular sporting events during the year.

Print madness promos: You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t like a good deal. Before the tournament started, UPS launched its four color prints for just $1 promo. This is the company’s idea of celebrating the Final Four, which is a great thought. It would have been interesting to see a company roll out a Sweet 16 or Elite 8 promo. There’s always next year!

Mastering logistics videos: The company launched a “Masters of Logistics” campaign on Facebook where team managers of NCAA basketball teams were asked to submit a video that demonstrated their dedication and expertise and explain how logistics plays a vital role in their job. For example, the managers discuss a typical day that includes everything from setting up meetings to packing for road trips. The winning manager’s school with the most Facebook “likes” will receive $10,000 toward the schools’ general scholarship fund. I love UPS’ idea of incorporating the schools, but please, don’t let Duke win this competition.

Clearly, UPS stole the show this year with its full-scale marketing campaign on logistics. For a topic that might be a little fuzzy for people to really grasp, UPS found creative ways to make the content a lot easier to understand from a sports fans perspective. They got a slam dunk, and I’m looking forward to seeing who takes the spotlight in 2012.


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