Special to NYSportsJournalism.com
March 6, 2013: Last year, Northwestern Mutual became an official marketing partner of the NCAA and began its journey into March Madness.
Now, Northwestern said it would be "ramping up its advertising presence [via] a robust marketing program" to activate around the 2013 NCAA Men's and Women's Division I basketball tournaments.
Among its plans, the Milwaukee-based insurance firm said it would serve as presenting sponsor for a number of key events supporting the 75th celebration of March Madness; increase it advertising on tournament broadcast partners CBS, TNT, TBS and TruTV; extend its presence to the Internet and mobile advertising on NCAA March Madness Live; and sponsor a number of events during Final Four weekend in Atlanta to benefit the Coaches vs. Cancer program.
In addition, Northwestern Mutual said it would be the presenting sponsor of the First Four games, as it did last year, which will air on truTV March 19-20 from the University of Dayton arena; and would also be the halftime sponsor for the entire NCAA Div. I women's basketball tournament.
"We're excited to increase our brand presence around this season's March Madness," Conrad York, vp-marketing for Northwestern Mutual, said in a statement. "We've renewed some strategies that were successful last year, while also adding a number of new activities, all with the goals of continuing to build our brand's awareness and provide sports fans opportunities and events that they can be excited about in the spirit of the game."
New this year, the company is the presenting sponsor of two 75th celebration programs on CBS and has co-branded "75 Years of NCAA March Madness" vignettes that pay tribute to the great memories around the sport.
On April 5, Northwestern Mutual will be the title sponsor for the 2013 American Cancer Society Coaches' Huddle, a fundraising event in Atlanta scheduled to include several NCAA men's basketball coaches. The next day, the Northwestern Mutual Road to the Final Four 5K will take place on the streets of Atlanta, with the finish line outside the Georgia Dome, where the semi-final games will be played later that day. The NCAA title game will be played there two days later.
Northwestern Mutual will also be presenting sponsor for the 4Kay run in New Orleans, where the NCAA Div. I women's Final Four will take place. Proceeds from the Coaches' Huddle and the Final Four 5K will help fund pediatric cancer research and other American Cancer Society initiatives.
Northwestern Mutual will also garner March Madness attention as the exclusive advertiser for a special Sports Illustrated issue devoted to the 75th celebration of the NCAA tournament. The firm has a full-page ad on the back cover, a three-page spread after the front cover and several multi-page ads inside.
"We've renewed some strategies that were successful last year while adding new activities, all with the goal of continuing to build our brand's awareness."
Among the marketers that had advertising spend during the 2012 NCAA Div. I men's tournament, the automobile category led with $205.8 million (headed by GM, Infiniti and Mercedes), followed by financial services ($115.7 million), telecom ($87.6 million), restaurants ($86.8 million, led by Pizza Hut, Dominos, Applebee's and Subway) and insurance ($82.4 million, with State Farm and Allstate as the top spenders), according to a new study from marketing and research firm Kantar Media, NY.
In 2012, some 80-85 companies advertised during March Madness, with the top ten accounting for $362.3 million, led by General Motors ($80.3 million), per Kantar Media.
Northwestern Mutual unveiled its corporate partnership with the NCAA in January 2012, including exclusivity in the life insurance, wealth management and retirement planning service categories.
NCAA marketing partners also include AT&T, Capital One, Coca-Cola, Allstate, Buffalo Wild Wings, Buick, Enterprise, Infiniti, Lowe's Nabisco, Reese's, Unilever and UPS.
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