March Madness Triggers Big-Time Wins for Marketers

This article originally appeared on odwyerpr.com.

 

From “steaks on a plane” to bringing back an old school wedding singer to ordering pizza with your shoes, the annual NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament has once again opened the court to some memorable marketing campaigns (and memes – sorry crying kid).

 

What makes these brand activations so meaningful? The massive 68-team college hoops event known as March Madness, which, over the last 79 years, has become the trigger of all marketing triggers.

 

In marketing-speak, a trigger is a cue that provokes us to think of something. In his book, “Contagious: Why Things Catch On,” Jonah Berger outlines the six principles that make things popular. Triggers are one of those principles, and according to Berger, when brands align with popular triggers, it can profoundly affect consumer behavior. Think Corona and the beach, Coca-Cola and the holidays and P&G and the Olympics.

 

With March Madness, there are even triggers within the trigger: “Selection Sunday,” “Sweet 16,” “Elite Eight,” the upcoming “Final Four,” “Bracket Busters” and more.

 

Why do triggers work?

 

Research shows that consumers choose the brands that engage them on their passions and interests 42 percent more often than they do those that simply urge them to buy the product being advertised.

 

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