The pizza franchise provided a prime example of great ambush marketing.
Pizza Hut is the official pizza sponsor for the NCAA and March Madness. However, you would not have known that on April 2, the day of the championship game. This was a direct result of Little Caesars implementing brilliant ambush marketing to take all the attention.
Before the tournament started, Little Caesars announced a promotion where if a 16 seed team beat a 1 seed, people could get a free Lunch Combo pizza for a couple hours on April 2. Little Caesars most likely thought they would not have to go through with this because a 16 seed has never won a game in the tournament.
So when the University of Maryland-Baltimore County beat a tournament favorite in Virginia, this promotion became a reality. At first, it seemed it was a mistake for Little Caesars due to all the free pizza they would have to give away. But after seeing the response and turnout, they received fantastic exposure.
News coverage yesterday centered on the long lines at Little Caesars locations throughout the country for their free pizza. On one of the landmark days for Pizza Hut to activate their sponsorship with the NCAA, they were overtaken by a competitor.
1. Chances are several thousand of the people who waited in line were eating Little Caesars' pizza for the first time. As a result, Little Caesars received massive brand awareness and feelings of brand loyalty.
2. While Little Caesars has to eat the cost of the pizza they gave away, it will likely have long-term benefits.
3. As a sponsor of a team or event, be aware that ambush marketing is common and try to find ways to beat it. For example, you could attempt to work through provisions with the sponsee to minimize ambushing.
4. On the other hand, think about how you can associate yourself with an event through legal ambush marketing. It can be very effective like in this case.
Below are pictures showing the lines and the promotion from Little Caesars.
Written by: James Campbell
James Campbell is currently in his Senior year at the University of Michigan. In May of 2018, he will receive his BA degree in Sport Management. Throughout his time at Michigan, he has worked with Detroit City FC, MiLife Sport & Social Club, and USA Hockey. - @Jimmy10Campbell