The NCAA Tournament is all about the athletes and the betterment of their educational opportunities through the friendly sport of basketball.
I’m just kidding, it’s about the NCAA, schools, and TV networks raking in massive amounts of money through exclusive sponsorship deals using the “March Madness” name. The early leader for most creative combination of an ad and the NCAA Tournament comes from Pizza Hut.
The “official pizza of March Madness” (which is a real thing that Pizza Hut paid lots of money to be able to say) has a new ad campaign features Grant Hill wearing “Pie Tops,” which are shoes that can order pizza. It’s a clever ad concept, but the shoes aren’t just in the commercial.
Pizza Hut and Dominic Chambrone, better known as the Shoe Surgeon, have created 64 actual pairs of pizza-ordering shoes (for the 64-team NCAA Tournament, even though it has 68 teams including play-in games). According to AdWeek, most of the shoes will go to “influencers” and not be made for public sale, but a few may find their way to Pizza Hut consumers.
The handmade sneakers are extremely limited edition. Only 64 pairs were made, to match the 64-team field in March Madness, and most of them will go to influencers and people in the media, who can amplify the message. But a few lucky Pizza Hut fans are likely to get some pairs, too.
The shoes are obviously not branded, and being handmade they’re likely put together with pieces of multiple shoes, but they have the look of the Jordan 1 high, without any of the Nike or Air Jordan logos. Sure.