For the Atlantic 10 conference, March Madness is more than a series of games. It’s a proving ground. And for two years running, it’s also been a national brand platform.
Last winter, 160over90 partnered with the A-10 to launch a comprehensive, NBA-style branding and advertising campaign that leaned on the league’s strong performance record and national rankings, and unleashed a challenge to any team: Who Wants Next? The positioning heralded the end for basketball dynasties that rest on laurels from long ago. Winning games and advancing deep into March is a workright, not a birthright.
We created a 2:00 national TV spot to tell the story of the grittiness and uncompromising work ethic embedded in the A-10’s athletic programs, as well as the academic excellence of each member school. Here, “free throws are not free.” “Glass slippers are swapped for work boots.” And “knockout punches are landed from 21 feet.” Acclaimed performer, slam poet and verbal stylist Saul Williams was recruited for the voiceover, and the music was scored by rjd2. Both artists epitomized the grittiness of the campaign, and effortlessly captured the rhythm of the game.
The hype piece earned a lot of positive attention in the college sports arena, as did the league itself, sending a record six teams to the 2014 NCAA Tournament. All 13 member institutions shared in the social storytelling, pushing the video spot to 800,000+ eyes to open the campaign, and the spot garnered more than 48 million media impressions including coverage in The New York Times and Sports Illustrated and a killer retweet from the one and only Dr. J.
We kept the forward momentum going with a bold evolution of the Atlantic 10′s identity in summer 2014.
And this basketball season, we built on the ‘Next’ storyline, taking the theme of hard work and tenacity one step further by highlighting the league’s constant commitment to advancing — on the basketball court, and likewise in the classroom. A minute-long commercial reintroduces Saul Williams and rjd2 to tell the next chapter of the A-10 story in unapologetic fashion. Lines like ‘Next will create hysteria in the student section’ and ‘Next will shatter all expectations’ bring to life the hunger and tenacity of the A-10, a conference built on hard work. Work that starts in driveways, playgrounds and gyms, which we captured with footage shot during a four-day, five-campus, six-game road trip.
[See more at WhoWantsNext.com]
This same hard work was on display at last week’s VCU overtime game, and in Dayton’s First Four victory and second-round upset.
While the A-10’s 2015 March Madness run has come to an end, we can’t wait to see what’s next for this power basketball conference.
Chief Executive Officer: Shannon Slusher
Chief Creative Officer: Darryl Cilli
Executive Director of Client Services: Sonya Cooper
Executive Producer: Tom Ammon
Director: Konstantinos Psimaris
Producer: Derick Crucius
Editor: Anderson Bradshaw
Creative Director: Brendan Quinn
ACD/Copywriter: Kris Blake
Digital ACD: Chris Lee
Motion Designers: Joe Dunlap, Jay Keree
Account Director: Jeremy Kanefsky
Account Executive: Andrew Larsen
Project Manager: Ted Quann
Social Media Strategist: Caleb Mezzy
Musical Score: RJD2
Voice-Over: Saul Williams