AT&T’s As-Live Twitter Clips & Kid-Led March Madness TVCs

AT&T’s 2013 NCAA activation blends last year’s kids-say-the-funniest-things approach with the company’s umbrella ‘It’s Not Complicated’ big idea with work that focuses on digital as much as traditional media platforms in order to connect with the big ‘in-office’ online March Madness audience.


Alongside ‘Rethink possible’ and ‘The nation’s largest 4G network’ taglines, this year’s March Madness campaign uses children’s ‘innocent-yet-relevant’ comments to form parallel messages about both college basketball and AT&T’s straightforward brand benefits.


The strategy builds on the brand’s 2012 March Madness work – which was also spearheaded by a series of TV spots featuring elementary school kids predicting college basketball victories based on arbitrary and childish preferences (such as favourite colours and cutest mascots) rather than the usual basketball expert logic.


This year AT&T, one of three NCAA Corporate Champion sponsors as well as the competition’s official wireless partner, tweaks the 2012 approach with new spots focused more on generic basketball topics rather than specific March Madness team predictions.


The campaign features a group of imaginative kids who turn functional mobile provider attributes into fun basketball comments and metaphors with the assistance of a central interviewer/moderator adult played by actor Beck Bennett.


The 2013 spots were developed with BBDO Atlanta (the host city of this year’s Final Four), while last year’s ‘Brackets By Six-Year-Olds’ work came via BBDO New York, and new spots include:





Go Big



Pick & Roll



Stadium Or Driveway



The kids shoot begins with basic scripted outlines and then moves into more child-led improvisation as the kids offer up genuine and eclectic answers and opinions.


AT&T’s 2013 TV work is also supported by other media platforms: from the mobile live app and the Fan Zone space to a Foursquare ticket promotion, a NCAA digital platform presence and the official brackets competition.


AT&T is also celebrating its tournament rights through its YouTube channel with videos of great historical moments from the competition’s rich heritage.



But perhaps the most interesting additional element to the telecoms giant’s March Madness activation is it Twitter ‘instant relay’ video work.


AT&T and Twitter (along with fellow tournament sponsor Coke Zero) have teamed on a social media March Madness project that sees the two brands sponsor selected tournament Twitter video highlights to bring quick response tournament action to the mobile masses.



The highlights are posted within minutes of occurring in-game and each Twitter video begins with a short promotional clip from one of the two sponsors.


Users can watch snippets from all 67 games on their phones, tablets and PCs without leaving Twitter by following @marchmadness.




‘Instant replay plays to Twitter’s strength of news in real time and on mobile,’ says Glenn Brown, director of promoted content and partnerships at Twitter, which is partnering with Turner Broadcasting.


A third party, Silicon Valley-based SnappyTV, is supplying the underlying technology to deliver 15-second video highlights.


This kind of instant replay sponsorship strategy, which first debuted when Ford Fusion signed up to back Twitter and ESPN’s video highlight partnership for college football Bowl Games, introduces a new media platform for brands and a new revenue stream for the microblogging service.


Of course, while this is an interesting way for Twitter to develop advertising sponsorships, for tournament sponsor AT&T it not only means another platform for rights activation but also encourages data usage among its subscribers.


This parallel traditional and digital approach builds further on last year’s campaign, which created more than 400 online mini spots, and saw kids picking brackets in a TV and social media focused initiative which focused on first graders aiding adults pick their winners.


The initial insight behind this 2012 approach was based on the fact that the tournament is so tough to predict and so random in outcome that children’s random choices based on their favourite colours or names are just as likely to be successful as grown-up basketball expert picks based on form, results, players, tactics and heritage.


The 2012 TV commercials including:








‘Championship Game’



These spots were supported by kids bracket picks, child blogging, a March Madness kids poetry competition and even NCAA school kids events.




March Madness has become something of an obsession in the USA.


Indeed, according to an MSN and Impulse Research survey 66% of US employees will watch NCAA tournament basketball during working hours, with 20% spending between one to two hours following games and 16% spending five hours or more watching games instead of working.


March Madness may be a college competition, but there is very little amateur about the tournament.


Those outside the USA may be surprised to learn that the NCAA’s annual university basketball competition generates around $11bn via a 14-year TV rights deal, $3bn in betting and around $1bn in advertising revenue (according to AdWeek and Kantar Medias).


And it’s growth looks set to continue with the first week of the 2013 tournament seeing a 9% rise in TV viewers and a 150% increase in social media activity which saw 6.3m March Madness related comments in seven days (according to Bluefin Labs).


So, while picking their brackets is college fun for some, it is big business for others.




AT&T Website



AT&T Foursquare Promotion



AT&T NCAA History YouTube



NCAA & AT&T Fan Zone








Featured Showcases