Infiniti Connects With ESPN, College Coaches For March Madness Marketing

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January 16, 2013: Infiniti likes the Big Dance so much that it is retuning for third year.

The automaker has signed with the NCAA, ESPN and the National Association of Basketball Coaches as the sponsor of the "Infiniti Coaches' Charity Challenge" for the third year.

The program, which expanded last year, pits 48 NABC coaches from the nation's top NCAA Division I men's basketball programs in a fan-vote challenge, with the total Infiniti contribution reaching $335,000.

Infiniti, an official corporate partner of the NCAA, said it would make a $100,000 donation to a charity designated by the winning coach.

The Infiniti Coaches' Charity Challenge will be promoted each week through a wide range of media, including the ESPN Game of the Week, Facebook and other social media.

ESPN's activation launches with four integrated content pieces narrated by Duke head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski at ESPN CreativeWorks worked with TBA\Chiat\Day New York for the pieces.

The first piece premiered during the Tennessee vs. Kentucky game on ESPN. They will run during about 14 college hoops games on ESPN this season from through early March. (See coach segments here.)

Infiniti will use this campaign and other March Madness activation to support the 2014 Q50, due to hit showrooms this summer, and other 2014 releases.

"Last season, Infiniti was pleased to present Ohio State University men's basketball coach Thad Matta a $100,000 check for his charity, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, for winning the annual "Infiniti Coaches' Charity Challenge," Ben Poore, vp for Infiniti Americas, said in a statement. "We know Coach Matta will plan on defending his title, but the 47 other coaches and their fans are going to put up a great fight."

Among the participating coaches and their charities are: Krzyzewski (Emily Krzyzewski Center); John Beilein, Michigan (The St. Louis Center); Sean Miller, Arizona (Ronald McDonald House Charities, Southern Arizona); and Bill Self, Kansas (Assists Foundation).

All 48 coaches' charities are guaranteed at least $5,000 from Infiniti.
Fan participation at a dedicate Web site, which began this week, will determine the ultimate winner over an eight-week period.Coaches will vie against each other and be narrowed down by brackets similar to March Madness.  Fans can vote for one coach per region per day. The winning coach will be announced March 11.  (Full details here.)

"College basketball coaches across America contribute in so many ways throughout the year for numerous national and local charitable organizations as well as community projects and initiatives," said Jim Haney, executive director for the NABC,  said in a statement. "The Infiniti Coaches' Charity Challenge enables college basketball fans to team with these outstanding coaches in providing significant financial support and awareness for so many worthy programs."

"We're also looking forward to joining fans across the nation for a great season of outstanding competition on the courts."

According to Infiniti's Poore, "Infiniti is proud to once again support NCAA Division I men's basketball and the NABC and their outstanding efforts in raising funds and support for their designated charities. We're also looking forward to joining fans across the nation for a great season of outstanding competition on the courts."

NCAA corporate champions are AT&T, Capital One and Coca-Cola.

NCAA corporate partners are Allstate, Buick, Enterprise, Infiniti, LG, Lowe's, Nabisco, Northwest Mutual, Reese's Unilever and UPS.

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