NCAA Tournaments Get a Push From Publicis

Publicis in Mid America’s first campaign for the NCAA employs extreme examples of March madness.

Three 30-second TV spots break Thursday on CBS and ESPN. The commercials will run throughout the NCAA men’s and wo men’s basketball tournaments, which end with the men’s championship on April 1.

The Indianapolis shop won the business in November following an informal review. The incumbent was Caldwell VanRiper/MARC, Indianapolis.

The campaign is similar to one that CVR/MARC produced several years ago, but the Publicis effort has a slightly altered tagline, “It’s that time again. Who’s your team?” CVR/MARC’s tag was, “NCAA. Who’s your team?”

The similarity is not coincidental. Both campaigns were written by Publicis executive creative director Mark LeClerc, a copywriter on the CVR/MARC campaign.

The NCAA is spending about $250,000 in advertising this year, about the same amount it spent in 2001, said John Johnson, director of promotions and special events for the Indianapolis-based NCAA.

The NCAA is in the process of redefining its brand and didn’t want to break from the style of its previous advertising until that pro cess was over, said Todd Seifferlein, ac count supervisor at Publicis.

The spots feature everyday people who are obsessed with college basketball.

“We knew by [the] nature of the media buy that these viewers were already fans, but we wanted to target those casual viewers and elevate them to that loyal fan base,” Seifferlein said.