ritz-toasted-chips-ncaa-mens-final-four-2023-hoop-tree installation

Ritz Hooks College Basketball Fans with a 20-Foot ‘Hoop Tree’ at the Final Four

Ritz’s brand purpose is all about creating “moments of welcome.” So to boost awareness of its new “Everything” Toasted Chips flavor, the brand crafted a lighthearted, family-friendly sampling experience designed for high engagement and visibility during the NCAA Men’s Final Four tournament in Houston. The activation, hosted at the Final Four Fan Fest, served as the anchor of a broader 360-degree campaign launched in early March to tout the new product and specifically drive trial among college basketball fans.

A vibrant footprint boasting distinct Ritz Toasted Chips branding and product shots in the brand’s signature red hue pulled in Fan Fest attendees, but it was the warm brand ambassadors who greeted them and the enticing touchpoints within the space that kept many of them there. The centerpiece was a branded version of the basketball game H-O-R-S-E that was, naturally, dubbed R-I-T-Z. Participants could take shots at dedicated spots around a 20-foot-tall “hoop tree” with a Toasted Chips graphic “backboard,” which rose higher with each attempted basket. Everyone walked away with custom branded swag, from foam fingers to rally towels to sunglasses.

coke-mens-final-four-2023-oversized-hoop_teaserMore on Engaging Hoops Fans:

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Building a family-friendly experience was a priority for Ritz.

“When I think about Mondelēz’s portfolio of snacks, there are a lot of similarities with that and with college sports,” says Jennifer Sobolewski, brand manager at Mondelēz International. “College sports have a very large, passionate following and it’s rooted in tradition, and our portfolio is very similar. Growing up, I always enjoyed Mondelēz snacks with my family and we were able to create those little moments of joy and tradition. So by being a sponsor of college sports, we’re able to tap into that emotional connection. It’s a really great way for brands like Toasted Chips to be able to increase their awareness.”

Beyond the hoop tree at Fan Fest, attendees could interact with brand ambassadors (with some fans even suggesting innovative Toasted Chips flavor ideas that Ritz may consider in the future), sample the hero flavor, Sour Cream and Onion, and take part in a 360-degree video op while an emcee and a dj spinning tracks kept the energy high.

“By having a fun game and our brand ambassadors acting very lively and engaging with fans, we were even able to create some moments of friendly competition between friends and family,” says Sobolewski. “They were really talking about our product. And by doing all of that while we have the fans snacking on the product, it really forms a memorable experience.”

Ritz supported its experiential strategy with an appearance on the “Today” show, March Madness content partnerships with YouTube and Bleacher Report, in-store sampling and displays, coupons and a sweepstakes. The brand also sent custom mail kits to select fans featuring samples of the new Everything flavor, as well as Sour Cream and Onion, along with bespoke basketball merch.

All told, Sobolewski says the campaign yielded “fantastic” results, including bumps in in-store performance and share gains. Nothin’ but net. Agency: HMT Associates.

Ritz Toasted Chips_NCAA Mens Final Four_2023_full footprint

The Toasted Chips’ Fan Fest footprint was designed to be as inviting as it was intriguing.

Kait Shea
Posted by Kait Shea

Kait joined EM in 2015 and today enjoys her role as senior editor, digital content. When she’s not in reporter mode, rocking mermaid pants at Comic-Con or running laps at MWC Barcelona, you can find her at home listening to music.
View all articles by Kait Shea →

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