SportsBiz Madness: 2023 Case Study Tournament Final Four Results

Published by Chris Lindauer on

SportsBiz Madness: 2023 Case Study Tournament (Final Four Round Results)

The Championship Round is Set! 

In the Final Four round of this competition, our competitors were tasked with the development of a strategy for activating Pizza Hut’s NCAA Women’s National Basketball Championship sponsorship to introduce its new “Melt” menu item.  

To find out who advanced to the championship round in this year’s tournament, please read on…

Props to all our Final Four competitors!

Determining which students would advance to the final round of the competition was an extremely tough call. You should all be proud of how far you have come in this tournament!

Miami Valley Career Technical Center (Ohio) VS. Flower Mound High School (Texas)

Despite a really strong effort from MVCTC, Flower Mound High School will advance to the championship round with hopes of reclaiming the title from seven years ago, the first-ever winners of this competition. Not surprisingly, students from MVCTC submitted an excellent case study response, but in the end, Flower Mound students shared a TON of unique and creative ideas that propelled them to a victory. They also offered a very compelling explanation of why the brand chose to invest in the women’s tournament rather than the men’s for this campaign, one of the key criteria evaluated in this round of the competition.

Some highlights from the Flower Mound case study submission:

  • The strategy included a full menu of activations, including arena signage, promotions, media, advertising, social media, and digital, helping to make sure Pizza Hut would maximize awareness for the new “Melts” product
  • Both groups suggested Pizza Hut “Melts” would be available at concession stands at tournament games around the country, providing fans with an opportunity to try the new product, but what stood out with Flower Mound’s strategy was providing fans with coupons at pop-a-shot stations throughout the arena to incentivize fans to purchase the item AND increase engagement with the brand
  • Fantastic idea to incorporate athlete and celebrity influencers on Instagram posting videos of themselves trying the new “Melts” menu item
  • Smart strategy to tie the new menu item in with players participating in the tournament with NIL deals and having them post on social media
  • Excellent attention to detail: Recognizing that the women’s tournament features games with four quarters, rather than two halves played in the men’s tournament, and maximizing brand exposure with the introduction of a “Pizza Hut Melt Play of the Quarter” highlights promotion
  • Nice job researching Pizza Hut’s existing marketing strategies and tying an activation to its “Our Planet, Our People” initiative, and introducing a cause-marketing component is an excellent idea (If a team reaches sixty points over the course of a game in the tournament, Pizza Hut would donate $10k to local food banks and charities)
  • Lots of great ideas for social activation, especially the TikTok “Pizza Hut Melt Dance” (a play on words to the “Big Dance” as march madness is often called)

Overall, this was a slam dunk from Flower Mound students. Congratulations, you’re in the finals!

Green Run High School (Virginia) VS. Downers Grove North High School (Illinois)

In a Final Four rematch from last year, Green Run High School exacted revenge and will move on to the finals, defeating the defending champions from Downers Grove North High School, giving Green Run students the chance to capture a second case study tournament title for the school in the last three years.

Green Run High School:

Green Run students developed a clear and concise strategy for activating at the Women’s tournament, recognizing the opportunity to promote a new menu item through women’s sport rather than a focus on the men’s tournament as a means for distinguishing the brand from competitors. From the Green Run report: “The differentiation can help Pizza Hut stand out among competitors and build a loyal customer base that values inclusivity and diversity.” With a focus on differentiation, Green Run established an activation strategy that would most certainly resonate with basketball fans everywhere. While Downers Grove students submitted a fantastic case study response, the Green Run submission was absolutely loaded with great ideas.

Some highlights:

  • A celebrity endorsement campaign featuring several of the tournament’s stars
  • Creative in-game promo during the telecast of the championship game (“Topping Hopping”): “Using the same idea as a human velcro wall, fans will sign up to dress up as toppings, then use dunking trampolines to spring themselves onto their team’s pizza. Fans watching will have the chance to vote on our Instagram Live Poll and choose their favorite pizza.”
  • Brand collaboration with Crocs and stars of the tournament to release a special-edition, limited release of NCAA-branded Crocs featuring the Pizza Hut logo along with a co-branded tournament merchandise collection
  • Coupon for “Pizza Hut Triple Double” (buy 3 melts get 2 free) printed on the backside of each ticket
  • Pizza Hut pop-ups at arenas throughout the tournament: “Pizza Hut stands will be found around all entrances to the stadium. Buy our delicious pizza and the brand new Pizza Melts to receive coupons and a free Pizza Hut Mini Basketball!”
  • Unique out-of-home activation with Pizza Hut’s branded bus targeting college students during exam week throughout the tournament (excellent job researching some of Pizza Hut’s existing marketing initiatives): “The Pizza Hut Struggle Bus will help prevent a MELTdown during exam week. College students can have a place to hang out, take power naps, meditate, enjoy selfie stations, and eat plenty of melts!”

Congrats again to ALL our participants in this year’s tournament, including everyone who advanced to the bracket round of the competition. We look forward to seeing you all again next year!

2023 SportsBiz Madness Case Study Tournament Bracket

Categories: Blog

Chris Lindauer

After working for nearly a decade in professional sports, Chris Lindauer, formed Sports Career Consulting to provide unique sports business education opportunities in and out of the classroom. In the eighteen years (and counting) that followed, Chris has inspired thousands of students to pursue their passions and explore the career of their dreams. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife, two teenage daughters and their dog.