Enterprise Revs Up March Madness Spot

'We Played' ad to run in heavy rotation during hoops tourney

NCAA corporate partner Enterprise Rent-A-Car is gearing up for March Madness, bowing a new 30-second spot featuring employees who were once competitive college athletes.

Featuring a roster of more than a dozen former swimmers, football players and power forwards, the “We Played” spot tipped off on March 3 during CBS' and ESPN’s college basketball coverage.

An extension of the year-old “The Enterprise Way” campaign, the new spot underscores the strong ties that bind the car rental company and the collegiate talent pool. According to CollegeGrad.com, no American company recruits more college grads than Enterprise, which in 2011 scoured campuses to fill more than 8,000 entry-level positions.

The “We Played” ad also echoes a familiar NCAA refrain, which is that the vast majority of college athletes will go on to pursue a career outside the sporting arena.

The campaign will air through May 30. About 25 spots will run during CBS/Turner Sports’ joint coverage of the 2012 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. Turner’s truTV will once again carry the “First Four” matchups, which are set to take place in Dayton, Ohio.

CBS will air the Final Four and the Championship tilt on March 31 and April 2.

Per Kantar Media estimates, a spot in the 2011 NCAA Championship game cost $1.24 million a pop. In early regional pairings, the average :30 costs in the neighborhood of $125,000. While Super Bowl spots keep soaring, pricing in the tournament has been remarkably consistent over the last five years.

All told, CBS and Turner raked in approximately $738 million in 2011 March Madness ad sales revenue. Automotive stands as the tourney’s most lucrative category, accounting for 21 percent, or $156 million, of the total sales haul.

While Enterprise has been an official NCAA corporate partner since 2005, the new spots aren’t covered under that umbrella deal. Terms of NCAA corporate sponsorships are not disclosed; that said, analysts estimate the value of Enterprise’s original pact at around $2.5 million per year.

In addition to a rotation on CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV over the course of the three-week tourney, Enterprise is also plotting an integration with CBS’ “Geico Best of College Basketball” special (March 25) as well as in the 24th Annual State Farm College Slam Dunk and 3-Point Championships. Moreover, the spot will continue to air in ESPN’s spring NCAA programming.

Enterprise is also running a series of “We Played” print ads. One execution features Enterprise employee Melissa Werges, a former Saint Louis University volleyball player who enthuses about the role teamwork played in shaping her professional career.

The company is also running banners in advance of Selection Sunday (March 11) and the tournament itself.

St. Louis-based Cannonball is Enterprise’s agency of record.