How Creator-Led Marketing Won March Madness 2023

Zach Donnenfield
Zach Donnenfield
May 3, 2023

Every year, March Madness brings basketball fans from around the world together to cheer on their favorite teams. With millions of viewers tuning in to watch the tournament, it's no surprise that brands are willing to invest in high-profile marketing campaigns. Influencer marketing has become an increasingly important component in brands’ advertising strategies for the event. By collaborating with social media influencers, brands can reach a broader audience and boost their visibility. In this blog post, we’ll look at the three most successful March Madness campaigns, and explore how creator-led marketing sent these brands to the top. 

Nike Dominates Impressions With Influencer-Led 'NCAA Tourney Gear' Collection

Nike and Jordan Brand sponsor a majority of college athletic programs, so it's no surprise that Nike beat out competitors on impressions, totaling an impressive 1.1B during March Madness. To celebrate the tournament, Nike launched its "NCAA Tourney Gear" collection, featuring a range of college-branded apparel for fans to support their favorite teams. The brand promoted the collection by collaborating with influencers like DJ Khaled, who boasts a massive following on social media. By partnering with influencers, Nike was able to increase the visibility of their campaign and reach a wider audience. 

Coca-Cola Scores Mentions with Hilarious March Madness Collaboration

Coca-Cola is omnipresent at the world’s largest sporting events, and this year’s March Madness was no different. Coca-Cola stole the show with an inspired campaign featuring basketball legends Magic Johnson and Tamika Catchings, as well as performers Lil Dicky and Travis Bennett, in two hilarious ads. The internet dubbed the campaign one of Coca-Cola’s best, fueling 3.7k mentions from fans. Coca-Cola also collaborated with social media influencers to promote the campaign, including TikTok star Brittany Broski. Thanks to savvy creator selection Coca-Cola was able to reach a younger, Gen Z-centered audience.

DraftKings Bets on March Madness—and Wins—Thanks to Impactful Promo 

DraftKings expertly launched two betting promotions during March Madness: one daily fantasy offer, and several free-to-play pools open to participants in most states. The campaigns were popularly received, expanding the brand’s presence and collecting a notable Reach of 1.0B. DraftKings also worked with social media influencers to promote the campaigns, partnering with outlets like Barstool Sports to reach a wider audience.

As March Madness continues to draw viewers, brands are taking notice and leveraging creator-led marketing to connect with fans. While Nike, Coca-Cola, and DraftKings saw particular success with their campaigns, other brands like Adidas, Wendy's, and LG Electronics also launched noteworthy initiatives during the tournament. For a deeper dive into these campaigns, and insights on the full impact of creator-led marketing during March Madness, download our complete report.

Check out our March Madness report