Ever since the Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) rule changes took effect, brands have been hungry to partner with college athletes during key NCAA periods. As we close out another exciting March Madness tournament, we take a look back at the top athlete partnerships from some highly innovative brands.
Pringles “March Mustache Collection”
Pringles leaned into another year of mustache March Madness marketing, creating special edition cans for its “March Mustache Collection”. The collection features Gonzaga’s Drew Timme, Duke’s Dariq Whitehead and Virginia’s Ben Vander Plas. The brand challenged fans to show off their mustaches on Instagram with the hashtag #PringlesMarchMustacheEntry for a chance at winning the chip can collection.
Buick “See Her Greatness”
Leading into March Madness Buick partnered with five women’s college basketball stars to promote the brands “See Her Greatness” campaign. The athletes included Aliyah Boston of South Carolina, Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, Stanford’s Cameron Brink, Azzi Fudd of UConn and Kiki Rice of UCLA. The campaign aimed to increase women’s visibility in sports by encouraging viewership, supporting initiatives that drive equity and inclusion and creating platforms for women to have meaningful conversations about the issues that face them.
Buffalo Wild Wings “Overtime Wingtime”
Buffalo Wild Wings rewarded fans with six free boneless wings each time a game went into overtime in the men’s or women’s tournament. The brand partnered with a host of athletes including University of Colorado’s Jaylyn Sherrod, University of Southern California’s Destiny Littleton and Marquette’s Mackenzie Hare.
Crocs Goes Big with Six Athlete Signings
Crocs unveiled its 2023 NIL roster, with six athletes signed to NIL deals. The signed athletes include: Auburn gymnast Suni Lee; North Carolina men’s basketball F Armando Bacot; Gonzaga men’s basketball G Julian Strawther; North Carolina women’s basketball G Deja Kelly; Stanford swimmer Claire Curzan; and Duke men’s basketball commit Jared McCain. Each athlete will partner with the brand to create customized social content.
Great Clips “Hats Off Sweepstakes”
The Official Hair Salon of March Madness launched their Hats Off Sweepstakes to start the tournament, giving fans the chance to win a trip and tickets to the Men’s or Women’s Final Four. The brand signed partnerships with Matthew Mayer of Illinois and Caroline Ducharme of UConn. Fans who shared photos and videos of their hat flip on social media using #HatsOffSweepstakes qualified for the sweepstakes.