As March Madness comes to a close with the Final Four, it is interesting to look at some of those “official” categories the NCAA has to see where the ROI is for companies spending big bucks on a partnership. From official ball (Wilson), to courtside advertising (Infiniti and UPS), to drinks, coolers, cups, squeeze bottles ( Coca-Cola and Powerade) to snacks (Reeses), the upside is pretty evident.
But what about official net cutting scissors (Fiskars) or traction wipes (Slipp-Nott)? Is there really great brand value? How about for one of the brands that many people don’t know, but see this time of year; the official ladder of the NCAA: Werner Ladders.
Now ladders are not something people go and buy every day. Like snow shovels you make your purchase and hope it lasts and does its job and stick it away again. The return on purchasing a ladder is probably even less, and given the millions who live in inner cities, the market for ladders is probably even smaller than for scissors. Yet Werner does an ample spend on platforms like ESPN during every March Madness run to make sure their brand is front and center.
Does it make sense? Probably so and here’s why. Of all those niche brands around the NCAA Tournament, the ladder probably gets the most exposure as the nets go down as teams advance on successive Sundays. Factor in the league championships and the millions of eyeballs watching, and that “One Shining Moment” doesn’t happen around the rim unless someone is providing the ladder to get the players and coaches up to cut down the nets. Therefore Werner gets extended time on air with their product, replete with signage, during some of the most-watched and elongated moments during March Madness. It gives a brand which may get lost in the purchasing shuffle a bit more stickiness with consumers, and by backing it up with ad spending, delivers a nice one two messaging punch.
Then there is the time of year. Odds are if you are going to purchase a ladder, spring is your time. The old one is broken, we need to clean windows and trim trees and move packages, so who do we go buy? Maybe its the brand, probably the only brand, I hear of during March Madness. So when consumer goes to Lowes (an NCAA Partner) or Home Depot the chance of brand association is that much higher.
Now do other brands spend direct to consumer to get identity? Sure. But to carve a unique niche with a mass audience and benefit from some nice spill-over exposure, Werner Ladder seems to have a leg up on its rivals. A nice niche carved with a very solid focus.