Warren Buffett $1 Billion Bracket Challege Is Marketing Genius

Why Warren Buffett’s $1 Billion Bracket Challenge is Marketing Genius

You may have heard in the last couple weeks around the water cooler that the NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament is now in full swing. You may also have heard that Warren Buffett offered $1 Billion to anyone who could fill out a perfect bracket.

$1 Billion? Really? All you have to do is fill out an NCAA Tournament bracket?

So, are you going to sign up?

You had me at $1 Billion.

That’s how most conversations went. 15 million people signed up for their free chance to win $1 Billion, and why not? They had nothing to lose, right? Sure, the odds were a long shot, but it was worth it for a chance at $1 Billion surely.

Warren Buffett and Quicken Loans Marketing Genius

Let’s examine this marketing campaign from a savvy marketers perspective.

Stop for a second and think about how many times you’ve heard these three names in the last few weeks or months: Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway, and Quicken Loans. The value in press, brand mentions and brand recognition alone is almost impossible to calculate. All this talk of Buffett and Quicken loans has surely lead to a large increase in search volume.

See that astronomical spike? That’s the power of this marketing campaign. For Quicken Loans in particular, their number of leads and sales have probably skyrocketed based solely on the fact that everyone knows their brand name.

Marketers have been talking about brands for a while now. Having a well known brand is the most successful means of succeeding online, and outweighs any gains that can be made from traditional SEO or social media. Brands are more important now than ever, and Quicken and Buffett has capitalized on this in the biggest way possible.

If you signed up for the bracket challenge, you might remember it being extremely easy and quick. What you might not remember is giving Quicken your name and other personal information such as your email, phone number, and answers to questions regarding your housing situation and whether or not you were looking for a mortgage. Seemed innocent at the time right? You just added yourself to Quickens 15 million person long list of leads.

And guess what? They’ve already sent out a few marketing emails.

Quicken Loans Marketing Email

So far we have tons of brand recognition, and a very lengthy email list. Sounds like a win in my book for Buffett and Quicken.

But what about the risk associated with running such a challenge? Surely risking $1 Billion would bankrupt them if someone won?

You weren’t going to win. Just stop it. You weren’t. No one was. In the entire time that ESPN has run the NCAA Bracket Challenge, they’ve never had a perfect bracket submitted. Ever.

The odds of randomly selecting a 100% correct bracket is 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. You have a better chance of winning the lottery, getting struck by lightning on your way home from work, or getting crushed by the soda machine on your lunch break, than winning this bracket challenge. It just simply wasn’t going to happen. Warren Buffett knew it, and Quicken Loans knew it, why else do you think they offered up such a ludicrous amount of money for a winner?

There was literally next to no risk at all. Buffett and Quicken had such a small margin of risk that the benefits surely outweighed the potential loss of $1 Billion.

There is also the fact that $1 Billion wasn’t going to bankrupt either Buffett or Quicken. Buffett has an estimated worth of $58.2 billion, and Quicken CEO Dan Gilbert has an estimated net worth of $3.7 billion. These are very rich individuals with the bankroll to place such a wager.

After the first week of the tournament, there isn’t a single person left standing. Not that I (or Buffett or Quicken for that matter) ever had any doubts, but it just goes to show you – if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Did you sign up for the bracket challenge? What were your thoughts on Quicken’s marketing efforts?

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Founder at Inbounderish
Brad is a Minnesota based Web Developer and Inbound Marketer. He writes regularly about a wide variety of web technologies including WordPress, Programming, Marketing, and more.

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