McDonald’s, Nike, Sprint Among March Madness Ad Winners

McDonald’s was the most-consumed brand during March Madness, according to research from Amobee Brand Intelligence.

With its All-American program – an annual all-star basketball game comprised of recent high school graduates; Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James are all alumni – McDonald’s was seen across 600,000 different websites and social media platforms, despite not being a tournament sponsor.

Similarly, Nike isn’t an NCAA sponsor; however, sponsoring many of the top coaches, the sportswear giant was still one of the most-consumed brands, though 40 percent less so than McDonald’s.

The sponsors that saw the most March Madness-related consumption include AT&T and Buffalo Wild Wings, which were seen about 35 and 24 percent as much as McDonald’s, respectively.


Though AT&T saw a high level of consumption, Sprint saw greater brand lift, according to research from Extreme Reach, a cloud-based video advertising platform that looked into the automotive, telecommunications, and technology industries.

Surveying 400,000 people – 72 percent of whom watched the games on TV; 16 percent online; and 12 percent some combination of the two – Extreme Reach saw a greater brand lift, or interaction with a brand following an advertisement, among men (65 percent) than women (51.7 percent), as well as among wealthier consumers. Brands saw a 121.3 percent brand lift among those whose incomes exceed $150,000; comparatively, that number was 58.7 percent for those who earn less than $50,000 annually.

While Sprint dominated its respective vertical with a brand lift 10 percent higher than second-place Verizon, the technology and automotive categories were a bit more even. Apple saw a 63.8 percent brand lift, only about five points ahead of LG and Samsung.

Among automakers – which received a 57.2 percent increase in brand lift during the tournament, compared with 4.2 percent during the Super Bowl – Cadillac had the highest brand lift (83.9 percent) during the Final Four games. Not even one percentage point lower was Mercedes-Benz, the number one auto brand during the Sweet 16, Elite Eight, and Championship rounds of the tournament. BMW, Audi, Lexus, Infiniti, and Jeep also performed well during the last few games.

On the flip side, brands like Ford and Toyota trailed throughout the tournament. Ford’s brand lift averaged around 40 percent; Toyota’s, 36.

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