Friday, April 3, 2009

March (Marketing) Madness

A few thoughts as we enter Final Four weekend....

Last year, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the first two rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament at the Verizon Center in D.C. It was great to be one of 18,000+ people pulling for Belmont as they came close to upsetting Duke in the first round. And personally, it was even better for me when West Virginia eliminated Duke two days later. The first thing I noticed when I entered the Verizon Center seating bowl last year was that all the banners representing the accomplishments of Georgetown's basketball team, the Washington Capitals and the Washington Bullets (the Wizards have accomplished nothing) had been taken down. The next thing I noticed was all the advertising signs located in the seating bowl had been taken down or covered over. It was a quick lesson in the NCAA's grand advertising scheme...if you're not an official partner or sponsor, you're not going to get a free ride during March Madness.

Earlier this week, I heard on the radio the NCAA now has an official ladder for the tournament. No joke, the Werner Ladder Company is now the official ladder and ladder accessory provider for the NCAA. (Wouldn't be great if Strickland Propane became the NCAA's official provider of propane and propane accessories? TV ads with Hank Hill as the spokesperson would be classic.) Werner even makes a special model for the NCAA, a ladder which is nine feet tall because that height is deemed perfect for cutting down nets after a victory.

All this leads to me to ask "what's next?". Is an official pair of scissors for cutting down the nets soon to follow? How about an official antiperspirant so the coaches pits aren't dripping when they're up on the official ladder with the official scissors in hand cutting down the nets? And while I think of it, is there an official NCAA net?

I know I'm going a little overboard. But, CBS paid the NCAA $6 billion for the rights to broadcast the men's tournament from 2003 thru 2014. So, does the NCAA really need to charge Werner to be its official ladder provider? Wouldn't the raggedy ladder Joe the janitor uses to change light bulbs in the arena bathrooms be sufficient? Oh wait, the NCAA would stick it to Joe to be an official janitorial partner of the NCAA before they'd ever let him near a camera.

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