Maxim Hopes for Slam Dunk With NCAA Contest

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Online men's magazine MaximOnline is planning a multichannel marketing approach to increase awareness of its Maxim Madness NCAA college basketball tournament promotion.


The promotion is an attempt to drive traffic to www.MaximOnline.com and to bulk up the publication's membership base. Registration for the promotion opened Jan. 22, but registrants cannot begin picking their teams until March 11.


In an attempt to create a buzz about the promotion among the 18- to 34-year-old male audience that Maxim is targeting, about 100,000 e-mail messages were recently sent to Web site members. By last week, about 5,000 recipients had responded by pre-registering for the promotion.


Through registrations, MaximOnline is able to gather the names, e-mail addresses and home addresses of participants.


Maxim will continue e-mailing its own database of about 100,000 users each week until the NCAA tournament begins and will e-mail playoff brackets to users so they can make their picks when the games start.


"We will market [through e-mail] directly to people who signed up last year," said Gene Newman, senior editor and producer at MaximOnline, New York.


The promotion, which is powered by Cohen-Friedberg Associates, Framingham, MA, is being featured on the front page of MaximOnline.com.


Further Internet marketing plans include running banner ads on Web sites that target college sports fans.


"You'll see some online banners and possibly some print ads in college newspapers," said Pam Sturchio, online marketing manager at MaximOnline, New York.


Online banner deals and offline college newspaper deals have not been finalized.


A full-page ad will appear in the March issue of Maxim. The issue hits newsstands Feb. 20.


"We expect to get a huge response from the magazine ad," Sturchio said.


Sturchio said Maxim magazine's circulation is 2.25 million. She anticipates that the magazine ad will result in at least 50,000 registrations.


Response to this full-page ad will be tracked through either a specific URL or some other kind of response code.


Contest participants will be instructed to pick the teams they expect to win. Players earn more points by picking lower-seeded teams. This encourages participants to pick underdogs, Newman said.


At the end of the tournament, the person with the most points will win a Kawasaki Ninja ZX 6R motorcycle.


Other prizes, including stereo speakers and other electronics, will be given away each round.


Maxim has lured as sponsors The Sharper Image, stereo equipment maker Tannoy and the resort Hedonism, which is sponsoring a vacation in Jamaica.


"This promotion strengthens our relationship with sponsors," Newman said. "It's very popular, and sponsors believe they're investing in something [Maxim] readers truly enjoy."
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