Nailed It! Analyzing AT&T’s March Madness Commercial and Why it Works, Backed by Data

How’s your bracket going? Are you ready for the Final Four? The past few weeks have been full of surprises and upsets in the world of college basketball. But do you know who’s likely not upset by all the action? CBS, Turner Sports, and their advertisers. 

Last week, CBS and Turner said that the audience for the first two rounds of the tournament was up 12% from 2021 and averaged over 9 million viewers per timeslot. Ad slots for this year’s Madness of March sold out quickly and the average price of a 30-second spot posted close to double-digit increases over 2021 rates.  

Analyzing March Madness Ads that Resonate (or Don’t) 

AT&T, a long-time partner of the NCAA and one of this year’s Official NCAA Corporate Champions, had (in my opinion) some of this year’s best tournament ad cameos. But, as always, the question we seek to answer at Resonate is: did they get it right with the audience? 

Let’s find out. 

Meet the March Madness Phone Carrier Switchers 

Now that you’ve seen the ad, let’s look at our audience. In the Resonate Ignite Platform, we can use rich, real-time data points to construct an audience of phone carrier switchers. So, let’s look at the March Madness fans who are planning to switch phone carriers in the next year, their demographics, what they value, what they look for in their next phone, and what might keep them from switching providers. 

The Audience Introduction Report in the platform shows us a snapshot of our audience including their demographics, motivations, and lifestyles. If you’re AT&T, knowing your viewership’s demographic background is just the start. By understanding your audience’s psychological drivers (expressing individuality, creativity, and trust from others), their personal values, and how they spend their time is much more impactful when it comes to messaging and creative. So, let’s dive a little deeper. 

Phone Carrier Switchers | March Madness

Consumer Insights Don’t Stop at the Demographics Level 

At Resonate, you’ll often hear us talk about the immeasurable importance of connecting with consumers through their personal values. Anytime you build an audience inside the Resonate Ignite Platform, you get access to the Values Report. In this instance, I compared our Phone Carrier Switchers to other March Madness Viewers and found that they over-index for the following three values: 

  • Tolerance (acceptance of those who are different) – A desire to accept and understand individuals who are different from themselves 
  • Reputation (maintaining a good public image) – A desire to place more emphasis on preserving a public image and avoiding dishonor 
  • Duty (obeying laws and fulfilling obligations) – A desire to emphasize adherence to obligations, rules, and laws 

Phone Carrier Switchers Values | March Madness

For our Phone Carrier Switchers, life is about broadmindedness, social respect, and being self-disciplined and dependable. Mike Stafford, who is coming off his recent Super Bowl LVI victory with the Los Angeles Rams, does a great job of both promoting AT&T’s offer and giving us a top-tier homage to his departure from the Lions. In his spiel we get a sense of acceptance, respect, and dependability that check all the boxes when it comes to mirroring the audience’s values. 

FUN FACT: The platform also lets us see what other sports our audience enjoys. Although our Carrier Switchers aren’t necessarily NFL fans, a vast majority of them caught this year’s Super Bowl (that’s 37% more than the average NCAA Fan). The cameo was choice was on point! 

March Madness Phone Carrier Switchers Watched Super Bowl

Telecom-Specific Consumer Insights AT&T Would Want to See 

Because AT&T’s promotion in this commercial is in fact a phone trade offer, we want to look at what our switchers value in a mobile phone. In the Resonate Ignite Platform, we also have Telecom-specific attributes that help companies like AT&T get a deeper understanding of what their audience is looking for in a mobile device as well as why consumers might be hesitant to actually switch phone carriers.  

March Madness | Phone Top Considerations

March Madness | Phone Top Considerations 2

This audience considers access to exclusive content, the latest device technology, and screen display quality the most important factors in a smartphone. The next closest considerations for a mobile device are good camera quality, fingerprint and/or face detection, and the operating system of the phone. While the commercial doesn’t necessarily highlight the features of the new Samsung Galaxy S22, we see the many cameras and sleek design towards the end. Plus, AT&T is basically appealing to Samsung’s fanbase by only accepting Samsung model trade-ins. 

March Madness Phone Switchers | Hesitations

Now, what makes our basketball-loving carrier switchers reluctant to change? While this audience under-indexes for reasons to change providers (they are our switch intenders, after all), it’s useful to see how much less likely they are to care about certain hurdles. The top 3 reasons our switchers might hesitate are wanting to keep their current phone, the idea that it might be difficult to switch over, and price. While this commercial doesn’t necessarily focus on switching, it offers compelling reasons to upgrade your phone — a big one being cost-savings! 

But what say you? Do you think AT&T’s commercial resonated with this audience segment? More importantly, are you wondering what you can uncover in your own audiences? We can help with that. Talk to us about your next campaign.

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