TV Ad Spend Weekly: Wendy's plays ball buster as NCAA tourney brackets get turned upside down

Wendy's does some ball-busting in the midst of all the bracket busting during March Madness / Kantar Media

Brands continue to invest heavily in above-the-line content, and television is still seen as the place brands want to be. Each week, in partnership with Kantar Media, The Drum looks at which brands have been investing the most on newly-launched creative on US national broadcast and cable TV.

March Madness games are continuing to light up the scoreboard for advertisers. During the week ending March 19, the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 rounds of the college basketball tournament accounted for 24% of total ad spending for national TV, higher than any other program. For new commercials, this percentage jumped even higher, with NCAA games accounting for 31% of expenditures. Overall, advertisers spent $136m on new national TV ads during the week, down almost 50% compared to the week prior when there were double the number of March Madness games for advertisers to bet on and spend figures were higher than what we see on an average week.

Apple was the largest spender of the week, dropping $11.2m on its new iPhone X ads for the tourney matches, while Warner Bros promoted its hopeful blockbuster, the Spielberg-helmed Ready Player One. Samsung looked to get customers into its new Galaxy device that can switch between apertures. Lowe's put in almost $5m for spots highlighting when to head to the home improvement store — any time you need to patch up your room from lasers and pawprints.

As the official hamburger of the NCAA, Wendy’s released a series of ads targeting fans of the March Madness tournament. The cheeky ads poked fun at the competition while encouraging viewers to download the Wendy’s mobile app for a free Dave’s Single with any purchase.

As a brand that’s been known to troll its rivals, Wendy’s boasted about their burgers being made with fresh beef, while others are using frozen. Even though defense wins championships, the only offense Wendy’s sees in March is a frozen burger.

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This data is part of ongoing reporting released on a weekly basis with Kantar Media using its AdScope tool.

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