MillerCoors and Diageo, looking to tap into the excitement of next month's NCAA basketball tournament, seem to have settled on a common approach: babes and brackets.
Miller Lite is partnering with Sports Illustrated on what it claims -- and what few of the promotion's targeted 20-something beer drinkers are likely to dispute -- is the "Greatest Bracket Ever." The spread, modeled after one of those familiar March Madness grids, pits some of the magazine's most iconic Swimsuit Issue spreads against each other.
Readers will vote periodically on each round of matchups through March 12. And, based on the first-round matchups, there will be some tough calls.
1980 Christie Brinkley vs. 2007 Brooklyn Decker, anyone? Kathy Ireland or Elle MacPherson?
"Our partnership with SI is going to give beer drinkers some very difficult decisions to make over the next two months as they vote on the best swimsuit poses and then make their March hoops picks," said Miller Lite Marketing VP Grant Leech.
MillerCoors said it expects 3 million people to participate in the voting, which will take place both at SI's swimsuit site and via Facebook. The marketer says it expects a third of the participation to come via mobile devices.
Not to be left out of the babes-and-brackets fray, Diageo's Captain Morgan is partnering with MTV Networks' Spike.com for something called the "Captain Morgan BracketMaster Challenge!"
"The challenge is simple -- we've selected 16 of the hottest Morganettes from the North, South, East and West," says a release announcing the promotion. "Fans will determine the Ultimate Morganette by filling out their brackets to submit their vote."
The roots of the Spike bracket deal date back to 2007, when it presented "Spike's Sexiest Bracket Babes" without a sponsor. It revisited the idea this year as it looked for ways to act as a vehicle into the NCAA Tournament fray, and in Diageo's Captain Morgan -- which already boasted its own Morganettes -- it found a willing partner.
"We wanted to do something that was true to our brand," said Shane Satterfield, VP-Content for Spike Digital Entertainment. "Spike is synonymous with beautiful women."
The voting begins Feb. 22, and it will be egged on by 15-second promo spots airing on Spike as well as an online photo and video hub with profiles of each Morganette.