Turner Sports, which has had three networks carry March Madness games, has a deal that extends the involvement of NCAA tournament sponsors off-air and into event marketing. AT&T, Coke and Capital One will sponsor a three-day concert festival in New Orleans in conjunction with the Final Four in New Orleans, a city known for music.
The free “Big Dance” event, co-produced by Turner and the NCAA, will feature diverse acts such as Jimmy Buffett, KISS and the Black Keys. It takes place in a park not far from the Final Four site starting March 30. The event in Houston last year pulled in 140,000 fans, Turner said.
The Final Four games will be on CBS, which shares March Madness sponsorship revenue with Turner under a massive tournament rights deal. Coke’s link to the music festival includes a “Coke Zero Countdown” with the Black Keys, currently on tour, while CapitalOne will back an appearance by Buffett.
As Coke CFO Gary Fayard said this week, 30-second spots in live events remain a strong marketing vehicle, since they are effectively DVR-proof, although they cannot stand alone and must be accompanied by digital and social media initiatives.
Live events would offer a similar addition in an integrated campaign. Coke also counts on music and sports as two worldwide passions that it looks to link its marketing with.