By Barry Janoff
March 13, 2016: Some strange things can happen on the road to the Final Four, especially if Charles Barkley, Spike Lee and Samuel L. Jackson are involved.
Capital One, a corporate champion partner with the NCAA — along with AT&T and Coca-Cola — has reunited the Three Amigos for the third time, here in a series of TV spots that anchor a multi-platform effort that will ramp up throughout March Madness and culminate during the Final Four in Houston.
The campaign supports Capital One's Quicksilver card and come with the brand's on-going tag line, "What's In Your Wallet?"
Barkley has been a company spokesman since 2013, initially teaming with Alec Baldwin and Greg Anthony in a series of humorous March Madness campaigns.
"I'm doing a bunch of spots with Spike Lee and Samuel L. Jackson for Capital One," Barkley said during a CBS-Turner March Madness media event in New York last week. "I have a lot of respect for them and I really enjoy working with Sam and Spike. They've been great to me. We've had a lot of fun working together.
Barkley, Lee and Jackson teamed up for a road trip last year during March Madness en route to Indianapolis, then reunited during the College Football Playoffs with a journey that ended at the championship game in the University of Phoenix Stadium.
Capital One has been an NCAA top-tier corporate champion since 2010, and since then the financial firm has been among the most aggressive marketers in the college sports scene.
Capital One's involvement in March Madness is omni-present. This year, it includes sponsorship of the March Madness Bracket Challenge, title sponsor of the Capital One JamFest on April 3 — the three-day Music Festival also includes the AT&T Block Party (april 1) and Coca-Cola Music (April 2) — the Final Four Fan Fest presented by Capital One (in Houston's George R. Brown Convention Center) and "Capital One Championship Central" during Final Four weekend broadcasts on CBS and Turner's TBS.
The Capital One JamFest will star Maroon 5, Pitbull and Flo Rida.
The company is also presenting sponsor for Tourney Town at the Women's Final Four in Indianapolis.
Lead agency is DDB, Chicago.
Between 2010-2015, Capital One has spent almost $50 million on marketing for Div. I men's hoops March Madness, according to research and marketing firm Kantar Media, NY.
Since 2004, the top five categories have spent more than $700 million during March Madness, nearly 60% of total spend among all companies.
The No. 1 category is automotive, followed by telecommunications, restaurants and financial services, the latter led by Capital One, Quicken and TD Ameritrade.
In 2015, the Men's Div. I Final Four two semi-final games — both of which aired on TBS — and the championship game on CBS generated a record $193.5 million in ad revenue.
Capital One's overall ad spend in 2015 topped $1.6 billion.
The first three Capital One spots for March Madness 2016, breaking this week, see Barkley, Lee and Jackson embarking on their trip, sharing mutual admiration but more often finding Lee (who again directed the spots) and Jackson making Barkley the butt of their humor.
In "Escape," the three sing their own version of the song, "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" by Rubert Holmes.
"If you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain/If you're not into yoga/And have half a brain/If you like making love at midnight in the dunes of the cape/Then I'm then love that you're looking for/Write to me and escape." (See the full spot here.)
"Nicknames" sees Barkley at the wheel of their car, lamenting his need for a new nickname.
"What's wrong with Sir Charles?" asks Jackson. "I need something fresh," says Barkley.
That open's the door for the other two to come up with a plethora of options: "Slam Chuck" "Alley-Oops" "March Sadness" "Full Court Mess" "No. 34 With Fries" and "The Round Mound Of Sit Around." Barkley's option: "Chuck-a-Licious." (See the full spot here.)
In "Best Friends," Barkley shows up wearing an iridescent lime-green outfit, including a hot, vest, shirt and sweats. Turns out he wants to dress like Lee, who is already wearing that outfit. "When you are best friends, you start dressing alike," Barkley explains to Jackson. "Why you biting my style?" Lee asks. "You're my bestie," says Barkley. "Hash tag 'Twinning.'" (See the full spot here.)
NCAA corporate partners include Allstate, Amazon Echo, Microsoft's Bing, Buffalo Wild Wings, GM's Buick, Enterprise, Infiniti, Lowe's, LG, Nabisco, Northwestern Mutual, Reese's, Unilever and UPS.
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