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March Madness: The Season of Shattered Dreams

Whether it was Sim Bhullar of New Mexico State or Mamadou Ndiaye of the UC Irvine Anteaters, spectators of the ongoing NCAA basketball tournament got the chance to see some “big boys” play in the paint this year.

mamadou picture

Besides these giants, there were some “big” players off the court as well.

In what seems like the spirit of the bracket, Warren Buffett, business extraordinaire and owner of Berkshire Hathaway, agreed to back the billion dollar bracket challenge sponsored by Quicken Loans.

sportscenter tweet

The challenge was that whoever correctly predicted all the wins of the tournament would win $1 billion. I say was, because at this point there are zero brackets that qualify.

Well, if it makes you feel any better, there wasn’t much of a chance to win anyway. Aside from the fact that nobody in recorded history has ever correctly predicted all the winning teams, according to this article by NPR the chance of having the perfect bracket was approximately 1 in 9.2 quintillion.

Speaking of numbers, March Madness is a golden marketing opportunity that both Berkshire Hathaway and Quicken Loans really capitalized on. More than 8.7 million people entered their brackets via Yahoo and provided their names, email addresses and answers to various questions about their home mortgage situation- which was a real plus for Quicken Loans as the fourth largest mortgage lender in the country. On the other hand, it was probably more of a minus for others.

david callaway tweet

As for publicity? A quick search for “Quicken Loans” within the past 7 days reveals the top associations to be “perfect bracket,” “billion” and “ncaa”. This shows that Quicken was definitely on the radar, since nearly everyone hears of the tournament whether they follow basketball or not.

quicken word cloudBefore the tournament started, we can see that there was an average of about 300 posts related to Quicken per day. Jump to March 21, and there are nearly 1,000 posts. You can see this spike below.

volume 30 days mm blog

Just by sponsoring this crazy challenge, Quicken Loans got immense publicity and media buzz. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the types of media that were talking about Quicken.

media type pie chartAll in all, the company got valuable leads on potential clients and free marketing research. Well, almost free. Quicken is still giving out $100,000 to each of the top 20 challengers with the most accurate brackets, so there’s hope for some of you!

Overall, I think Mr. Buffett sums up this experience quite nicely.

paul pabst tweet

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