Sponsors Bring ‘Living Brackets’ and ‘Dream Courts’ to the 2024 Men’s and Women’s Final Four Tournaments

There’s no better way to engage college hoops fans than to pass them the ball, and that’s exactly what sponsors did at the 2024 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Final Four Tournaments this month. From pop-a-shot games to shooting drills to dunk moments, brands at both competitions placed attendees in players’ shoes—and the spotlight. The savviest among them also ensured that their activations tapped into other key elements of college basketball culture, like technology, fashion and music. Ready to hit the court? Here’s a look at some of the top brand experiences from the conclusion of this year’s Big Dance.

Wendy’s NCAA Sponsorship Sizzles with Supersized Visuals and a Growth MentalityMore on the Final Four:


The women’s Final Four tourney was held April 4-7 in Cleveland at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, where the South Carolina Gamecocks clinched the title over the Iowa Hawkeyes (and superstar Caitlin Clark) to wrap an undefeated season. Throughout the weekend, the majority of brands activated within the official fan fest, Tourney Town presented by Capital One, which offered a full roster of activities, interactive games, performances, autograph sessions and beyond.

Worth noting: 2024 marked the first year the women’s competition earned more viewership than the men’s (by a landslide), as women’s sports—and sponsorship opportunities—continue to flourish.



As presenting sponsor of the 2024 NCAA Women’s Final Four Tournament, AT&T had a widespread presence during the event. For one, the brand hosted the free Super Saturday Concert headlined by Latto. Then over at Tourney Town, AT&T invited fans to dribble and take shots on a vivid, motion-tracking LED court. They also had a chance to meet, and snag autographs from, NCAA and WNBA stars, including the first-ever player to be signed to the WNBA, Sheryl Swoopes, and two-time WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson.

AT&T additionally worked to make connections within the local Cleveland community by serving as presenting sponsor of a one-day event featuring expert keynotes and panels. The experience was aimed at linking college students with industry leaders, and in turn, fostering mentorship opportunities. (Agency: Wasserman)


CAPITAL ONE                                   

Capital One, presenting sponsor of Tourney Town, activated the Capital One Fan Zone during Final Four weekend. Attendees could meet players, create their best “media day moment,” snap a photo with the championship trophy and score prizes along the way. To boot, Capital One cardmembers could flash their card at the Fan Zone Merchandise area and create their own bucket hat, among perks.



Coke Zero Sugar placed fans in the limelight with a tech-forward activation (and replicated the experience at the Men’s Final Four Fan Fest). Attendees could enter a recording booth to create a personalized, AI-generated “hype” video, as well as pose for a “Fan of the Year” magazine cover while Coke-bottle confetti rained over them. Of course, plenty of samples of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar were also on tap. Plus, during games, the in-broadcast Coke Zero Sugar “Thirsty Fan Cam” showed fans cheering when players tossed free throws. (Agency: Momentum Worldwide)



Powerade put hoops fans in the shoes of a college baller as they worked their way through the year-round hustle that leads to the Final Four (and replicated the experience at the Men’s Final Four Fan Fest.) Attendees were taken through different seasons of prep and practice, wrapping with a giant dunk moment that landed them at a “Final Four Finish.” Each participant walked away with an animated digital poster showcasing their journey to greatness, along with samples of Powerade to keep them hydrated. (Agency: Momentum Worldwide)

Powerade_Coca-Cola_mens Final Four 2024 dunk moment



The Home Depot showed up at Tourney Town with NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal and a “Tool Shaq” that played off of its How to March Madness campaign, which includes a “Tips from the Tool Shaq” content series hosted by O’Neal that is designed to help DIYers get spring projects done.

The IRL Tool Shaq offered fans the chance to take a photo with a living bracket made from thousands of real flowers, paint their own Final Four court design, test their skills against Shaq at The Big Dance Off and shoot their shot at Shaq’s Shooting Drills—all for a chance to win sports towels, shooting sleeves and “bucket” hats. (The brand replicated the experience at the Men’s Final Four Fan Fest.) (Agency: Octagon)


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At Wilson Sporting Goods’ fan experience, attendees could dribble the first-of-its kind, 3D-printed Wilson Airless Basketball, learn about the Wilson Title IX basketball that fans helped design during last year’s Women’s Final Four weekend, and purchase NCAA-branded merchandise and the brand’s latest sportswear.



Outside of Tourney Town, women’s empowerment platform Fierce Lab hosted two events to help promote the launch of its College Tour this fall. (Agency: Tara Wilson Agency)

A CreatHER Dinner hosted in partnership with Samsung was curated for 25 female leaders who were in town for the Final Four. Among highlights was a “permission slip” moment that alluded to how women often need to give themselves permission to go after their biggest ambitions. In addition, Samsung offered one-on-one demos of its new Galaxy S24 device, and all attendees received Fierce Lab-branded swag and an invitation to attend Fierce Lab LIVE this October.

The other event, dubbed Coffee, Connections & Conversations, was just what it sounds like. Fierce Lab took over Cleveland’s 27 Club Coffee and ultimately picked up the bill on more than 200 cups of coffee for attendees. A highlight of the event was a panel featuring Sarah Bergstrom of TOGETHXR, Sydney Umeri of Meta and Camille Buxeda of Octagon, who discussed their careers in sports and lessons learned. Among those in attendance were students form Cleveland State University, John Carroll University, the University of Iowa and the University of South Carolina.

Photo credit: Emily Johnson Creative



Wendys_NCAA_Gallery_Second_2024Wendy’s sponsorship this year came to life through scale and service in fan experiences at both NCAA Final Four championships: the men’s Tip-Off Tailgate presented by Nissan, April 6-8, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ; and at the women’s Party on the Plaza presented by Buick, April 5-7, at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland.

“Women’s basketball continues to gain visibility, and we’re proud to champion these athletes,” says Frank Vamos, vp-global communications and creative storytelling at The Wendy’s Company. “The women’s and men’s tournaments are only growing in excitement and engagement, and we’re matching that energy by going bigger each year for fans—bigger activations, longer activation hours, more Wendy’s favorites, and new ways to engage.”

Read the full case study here.


The men’s Final Four tourney took place April 5-8 at State Farm Stadium in Phoenix, where UConn (go Huskies!) ultimately defeated the Purdue Boilermakers. Throughout the weekend, attendees visited the Phoenix Convention Center for the Men’s Final Four Fan Fest presented by Capital One to enjoy hoops-themed activations, music, samples and more.


AT&T_Men's Final Four Fan Fest 2024 2AT&T’s Block Party and Final Four Fan Fest activations encouraged fans to “Connect to the Madness” in a nod to its connectivity chops. At the Fan Fest, the brand offered attendees the opportunity to design their dream basketball court using AI. Then, participants stepped onto a full-sized version of the concept and played a timed, AI-powered Dream Court game that had them shooting baskets with the aid of a Samsung device. The top scorers were rewarded with prizes. The experience additionally included a custom mural and NCAA player meet-and-greets.

Meanwhile, on April 5, the AT&T Block Party at the March Madness Music Festival featured headliner Zedd, along with performances by Reneé Rapp and Remi Wolf. (Agency: Wasserman)



It was all games all the time at Bleacher Report’s Fan Fest footprint. Visitors could test out the House of Highlights (HOH) Human Claw game (HOH is a digital fan platform run by the brand), win tickets to the men’s championship game, score HOH swag, snap a photo with the B/R Kicks Fit Cam to show off their sneakers and compete with friends in the B/R arcade in a game of NBA 2K or Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga.



Capital One showed up at the convention center with two “Madness-worthy pitstops”: the Capital One Chuck Stop and Magic Mart, both references to an ad campaign featuring NBA legends Charles Barkley and Magic Johnson running rivalry convenience stores of the same names.

Each mock store offered games, photo ops and sports-themed interactives, like a Home Run Derby, a hockey slapshot game and other activities themed around soccer, football, golf and lacrosse. Before leaving either footprint, fans could pledge their allegiance to either team #ChuckStop or team #MagicMart and snag some of “Chuck’s Cool Stuff” or “Magic Merch” swag.

The brand additionally served as presenting sponsor of the Final Four Jam Fest. And did we mention the Barkley-themed Capital One blimp that hovered around Phoenix during the weekend?


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Right on brand, Cartoon Network created a colorful, family-friendly Kid Zone activation at Fan Fest themed around characters from some of its top kids’ shows. Attendees could slide into a ball pit at the center of the footprint, practice their drawing skills and participate in kid-centric, sports-themed activities.


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Ritz returned to Fan Fest with its 20-foot-tall “hoop tree” and plenty of Ritz Toasted Chips to go around. Fans could shoot their shot at the oversized hoop in a branded version of the basketball game H-O-R-S-E to win prizes, as well as participate in a 360-degree photo op. In addition, the brand was joined by NBA player Isaiah Thomas, who helped amplify the activation and tout two new Toasted Chips flavors available on-site: Sweet Habanero and Honey BBQ.



LG Transparent Conversations mobile podcast_Mens 2024 Final Four_exterior studioLG teamed up with the NCAA to activate a sponsor experience on April 6 and 8 on the Great Lawn outside of State Farm Stadium during the Tip-Off Tailgate presented by Nissan. The brand parked its mobile studio at the event and recorded two new episodes of its traveling podcast series, Transparent Conversations, which focuses on mental health and wellness for college-level student-athletes.

Fans were invited to stop by to watch the live recordings, participate in an audience Q&A, catch an autograph signing with college hoops coach Bobby Hurley and kick back with lawn games like cornhole. Everyone left with custom, glowing sound-reactive bracelets and foam fingers, and also had the chance to enter a raffle to win LG electronics, including portable tower speakers



Located a good ways from Phoenix, Visit Glendale, an Arizona tourism organization, activated a Final Four experience in Glendale’s Westgate Entertainment District in an effort to boost awareness of the city’s attractions. Touchpoints included a video booth, a pop-a-shot basketball game and a range of custom premiums to be taken home as souvenirs. Attendees also participated in a sweepstakes offering a deluxe travel package for a return visit to Glendale in the future. (Agencies: GDX Studios; Madden Media)

Photo credit: Henry Funez

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.
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