I don’t know about you, but for me, this is the best time of year.

The weather is changing. Flowers are blooming. The days are longer.

And March Madness has arrived.

I know most of you, like me, will be spending a lot of time filling out brackets trying to crack the code. ESPN will be on a lot, and work productivity will reach all time lows. You’ll root for the underdog and celebrate the heroics.

There’s a lesson to be learned during tournament time, the lesson of having a powerful brand.

Everyone loves the underdog this time of year. Upsets are a tournament novelty that American can’t get enough of. There’s just something about seeing Goliath fall that puts a little bit of hope in all of us.

Unfortunately, the NCAA doesn’t see it that way.

Every year there’s a big fuss about which teams squeak into the tournament and this year is no exception. Mediocre teams like Syracuse and Pitt made it over mid-majors with way better records like Monmouth.

Why is that?

Well the obvious answer is money, but the sub-answer to that is branding.

Teams like Syracuse and Pitt have a massive following and their school brands are strong. The list of Pitt and Syracuse alum run a lot deeper than any mid-major. Someone who doesn’t follow college hoops will be more likely to tune into an Orange or Panther game.

How does a smaller school build themselves up to those levels?

It’s a lot of factors. Winning is the most important but timing and a splash of luck play a role.

The best example of this is Butler.

The bulldogs went on a tear a few years ago and gained so much momentum that now they’re part of the Big East Conference. Sure, this isn’t the Big East Kemba Walker controlled but it’s still one of the major conferences in America. Butler made it to the National Championship Game and beat a lot of name brands (Pitt) along the way. They even took out my dear alma mater, ODU.

Anyway, Butler has built it’s own brand and now will get the benefit of the doubt during tournament time in regards to being invited and even seeding.

So, let’s review.

If a mid-major wants the same love as bigger schools then they need to win and win at the right time against the right team.

Side bar: who ya got this year?

As always, thanks for reading.

Football, Pizza, Wings, Beer, and Advertising. I don’t have the data but if you polled America those would probably be the top five things associated with the Super Bowl. Football is over and I’m out of pizza, wings, and only have a few beers left so I guess the only thing to talk about is the advertisements. There were a lot of good ones this year, I really enjoyed most of them. Below are my top ten. Let’s get started.

Let’s dive in. Here is 10-6.

10. Mini USA: Defy Labels. 

Starting the list off will be recurring theme for me this year. Mini’s commercial may seem basic and something we’ve seen before. I agree but this commercial is bold.

I like bold.

Mini took every negative stereotype about its product and turns it into a positive. The sleek, deceptively spacious, vehicle opened the door to new audiences across the country.

Expanding your target audience during the Super Bowl? A huge win for Mini. 

9. Avocados from Mexico: #AvosInSpace 

Just like last year, Avocados from Mexico delivers with a wildly creative ad. The futuristic bit makes light fun of America’s social history. It delivers on every level in regards to pop culture digs. I’m a huge Seinfeld fan so the double dip reference at the end was the icing on the cake…..or avocado? 

You know what I mean. 

8. Heinz: Wiener Stampede 

 As a recently new dog owner this one pulled on the heartstrings. Heinz beautifully added imagery to condiments. The hot dog pun was perfect and the casting for each bottle, (did you see the cute kid?!!) was spot on. 

Well done Heinz, well done. 

7. Hyundai 

I’m cheating a little with this pick. Every single commercial Hyundai aired was great and set many different tones. You have the funny ads (like the one posted) and other ads that showed a more serious side to the car maker. Hyundai has a batting average of one thousand after last night. 

Hyundai invested a lot of money into this year’s Super Bowl. I wonder if they got a buy 3, get one free deal for the airtime? 

The Better Spot. 


The Chase 

6. Shock Top: Unfiltered Talk 

I get it, this kind of humor may not appeal to everyone. Shock Top took a risk but it’s sure to payoff. With TJ’s Deadpool movie coming out Friday it gives the Shock Top brand an indirect rub. The quick wit and jokes are right up his alley and it appears to be up Shock Top’s too. 

I’m thirsty. 

That’ll do it for the bottom half of my top ten Super Bowl L commercials. Click here for the top 5!