Adobe Touts PDF Features Via ESPN’s March Madness

Adobe hopes to tap into March Madness to show off the new capabilities of its document software.
The company has teamed with ESPN to sponsor the “Ultimate Tourney Guide,” a techie twist on the brackets fans fill out with their predictions of the results of the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament. Instead of offering a typical static bracket for download, ESPN is using Adobe Acrobat 9 interactive PDF format, which will dynamically update the desktop file with feeds of video, news and game results as the tournament progresses. Users can also answer polls and register to win a LCD TV.
The sponsorship deal is an attempt by Adobe to embed the Acrobat 9 product experience into the advertising. The sponsorship includes product sampling: if users do not have the updated version of Adobe’s Reader software, they will be prompted to download it. Last year, ESPN’s tournament challenge saw more than 3.6 million entries — giving Adobe a prime opportunity to get more people to be aware of how its PDF technology has evolved, said Kevin Lynch, general manager and vice president of Adobe’s Acrobat business.
“One of our challenges for Acrobat is a lot of people think they know it because everyone has received a PDF and opened it,” he said. Adobe added multimedia capabilities to PDF last June.
ESPN will promote the Ultimate Tourney Guide throughout its site with display ads. The program came about through collaboration among sales, product development and Adobe, according to Eric Johnson, evp of multimedia sales at ESPN.
“It helps to showcase some of the interactive PDF capabilities, he said. “You’re giving the fans value of something they want.”
The deal is an example of how technology companies can market by adding utility to a media experience. ESPN had a deal with Cisco to use its videoconferencing product during telecasts from NBA All-Star weekend. CBS has used Electronic Arts video game technology to diagram plays. Philips promoted its Ambilight TVs by enhancing the viewing experience on MSN’s video site. Adobe is concentrating on more ways to show off its technology through marketing programs, said Lynch.
“Our strategy is helping people experience a product rather than just tell them about it,” he said.