Infiniti has hitched its "Inspired Performance" brand platform to ESPN's build-up to the NCAA Men's College Basketball Championship. The Nashville, Tenn.-based automaker has inked what it is calling its biggest marketing initiative in its 20-year history. The agreement with ESPN, the National Association of Basketball Coaches, the SEC (Southeastern Conference) and Big Ten Conferences includes sponsorships, content-driven original programming and online and social media extensions.
The partnership also makes Infiniti "Official Luxury Vehicle" of the SEC and Big Ten Conferences and gives the brand grassroots opportunities at conference-championship tournament venues.
The effort, which begins this week with TV, print and digital media running through the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Game on April 5, touts vehicles like the 2010 Infiniti G, and a redesigned Infiniti M performance luxury sedan. The latter will get its first advertising in a spot to air during the championship-game tipoff, per Infiniti. The car goes on sale this spring.
Branded content on ESPN includes a pre-game show, "The Infiniti College Basketball Tip-Off," before the start of eight college games beginning this week. The show ties in with the brand's "inspiration" theme with one-on-one interviews with head coaches from each team on their inspiration.
The cable network will also run the "Inspiring Coaches" video series at ESPN.com, ESPN mobile and the Infiniti Facebook page prior to games. And in the week leading up to each Saturday game, Infiniti and ESPN will have "What To Watch For" teasers. The effort also includes post-game ads in USA Today and on Facebook.
Said Ben Poore, VP, Infiniti, in a statement: "We're creating our own platform with our original themed content and new media applications and extensions to build awareness of Infiniti."
ESPN Mobile will run "Game of the Night" branding around the "Inspiring Coaches" video and text components. An Infiniti spokesperson says there is Infiniti branding at the beginning and end of each spot.