March Madness is one of the best times of the year in sports. It’s also one of the most attractive to marketers, so companies are looking at any way they can to capitalize on the season. But instead of paying the NCAA to use players’ likenesses– and not the players themselves– in their advertising, Kingsford Charcoal’s taking a different approach.


On Thursday, Kingsford revealed a special edition bag that takes a jab at the NCAA and their practice of not allowing athletes to receive endorsement money. On it is former college basketball player Ed O’Bannon, who won a lawsuit against the NCAA last August for the organization’s unwillingness to pay athletes for the use of their name and likeness. In addition to the #PayEd hashtag on the bag, there’s a slogan of “Lights 25% Faster, Doesn’t Burn Athletes.”

“Kingsford Charcoal has become one of the many companies to use the likeness of a famous amateur basketball player for marketing purposes during that mad, mad month of March,” stated a press release. According to a Yahoo Sports report, Kingsford will turn that train of thought on its head by actually paying O’Bannon for using his likeness, including by giving him $1 for every use of the #PayEd hashtag on Twitter.

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Although this will sure to get some at NCAA headquarters upset and probably end any thoughts of Kingsford getting a commercial slot during the NCAA Tournament, the move can only do good for both sending around O’Bannon’s mission for student athletes and Kingsford’s publicity.

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