Coke Zero’s NCAA ‘It’s Not Your Fault’ March Madness


Coke Zero is using Coca-Cola’s rights as an NCAA official Corporate Champion to tie-in March Madness with its new ‘It’s Not Your Fault’ campaign.


Part of the brand’s umbrella ‘Enjoy Everything’ initiative, this new light-hearted, fun creative celebrates ‘guys-being-guys’ as the soft drink brand aims to connect male bonding to college basketball’s end-of-season national championship.


Coke Zero is the official fan refreshment of the NCAA Final Four and its new work is rolling out nationwide as March Madness unfolds.


It is spearheaded by 30-second TV spot called ‘Bracket’.



The narrative’s message is simple – it’s not your fault you can’t do anything but watch basketball during NCAA March Madness – and the work has been created in partnership with creative agency Droga5 New York, media agency Starcom MediaVest Group, Turner and the NCAA.


This is Droga5’s first work for Coke Zero.


Follow up commercials within the campaign also include:





and Schedules




The TV spots are being featured across the platforms of broadcasters’ CBS and TBS in March and April.


Another strand of the campaign sees Coke Zero partner with talk show host Conan O’Brien.


The TV chat star, whose evening show will move from LA to Atlanta for selected programmes during the tournament and will be sponsored by the soft drink, will appear in a bespoke Coke Zero TV spot towards the culmination of the competition and the brand’s “It’s Not Your Fault” campaign will link with the show.


Coke Zero is also backing a Conan music series with performances in Los Angeles, Austin and Atlanta. Andy Richter, the Conan sidekick, will emcee them. Big name musicians are also set to headline the ‘Conan Coke Zero Music Series’ on the ‘Road to the Final Four’, while Coke Zero and Conan are also co-creating a bespoke ‘It’s Not Your Fault’ promotional spot.


The campaign is also running on the official March Madness Live mobile app and in-game broadcast enhancements.


With the competition’s flagship Final Four Tournament taking place this year in Coca-Cola’s home town of Atlanta, there will also be a strong, local out-of-home element to the campaign.


As the campaign evolves it will use themes of camaraderie, enjoyment and humour in the sports, gaming and music spaces.


A further commercial, ‘Video Game’, follows on and then digital content takes centre-stage with a seven part video series and an online game.


This multi-faceted, integrated campaign will evolve through the year and leverage other Coca-Cola sponsorship assets such as football and NASCAR.


‘We’re talking to men more overtly with ‘It’s Not Your Fault’,’ says Pio Schunker, SVP and Head of Integrated Marketing Communications, North America Group.’We’re positioning Coke Zero as a defender and celebrator of guy enjoyment.’




Leveraging the US tradition of filling in your own brackets for March Madness is something many brands and broadcasters have done in the past (see our previous case study on the 2012 CBS/Turner NCAA campaign), but Coke Zero’s multi-tiered campaign is, like the brackets themselves, truly interactive.


This week even saw Google get in on the March Madness act – it is currently embedding the NCAA bracket at the top of a variety of search results.


In sponsorship terms, March Madness is the flagship event around which Coke Zero activates in the first quarter of the year and it matches similar strategies from the core Coca-Cola brand at the Super Bowl and Diet Coke at the Oscars.


Alongside Coca-Cola, the other companies in the NCAA’s top partnership tier are AT&T and Capital One, while its official Corporate Partners include Allstate, Buffalo Wild Wings, Buick, Enterprise, Infiniti, LG, Lowe’s, Nabisco, Northwestern Mutual, Reese’s (Hershey’s), Unilever and UPS.




Coke Zero March Madness Website



MyCokeRewards NCAA



Coke Zero Facebook



Coca-Cola Website



NCAA Final Four Website Brackets



CBS Sports



Turner Broadcasting




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