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Going Viral: Jacob Tucker, State Farm and March Madness

Just a few weeks ago, Jacob Tucker was like any other Division III athlete in America. Plying his trade at a small college, away from the bright lights of the revenue generating business that is big-time college basketball in this country. Then he got an idea that wouldn’t have been possible in any age but this one. 

He and his friends decided to put up a video on YouTube of his dunking abilities. You see, Jacob Tucker is 5 foot 11 inches tall. But in spite of that, he gets pretty far off the ground. The College Slam Dunk & 3 point championships are a nationally broadcast annual event that feature players from NCAA Division I schools. Jacob was told there was a remote chance that he’d be able to merit inclusion playing at Illinois College, a Division III school in the unheralded Midwest Conference. 

The video blew up. First on the internet. Then ESPN’s Jim Rome got a hold of it and over 2.5 million views later, he’s the March Madness version of Rebecca Black. (Ok, maybe not.

In any case, State Farm and their partner running the Slam Dunk event recognized an opportunity. There was pretty much no way they could deny Jacob now, but rather than accept him outright, they decided to make a contest out of it on Facebook. Jacob’s competitor is a 6’7” player from Lee University named Rico Cunningham, whose own highlight reel is impressive enough.

In the end, it seems pretty unlikely that much will be able to stop the viral freight train that is Jacob Tucker. After all, he did all the hard to work to get noticed in the first place. What we have here is an interesting example of how a brand managed to gain a bit more exposure from an event without doing anything other than recognizing the opportunity and leveraging it.

Whether this will be a one-off opportunity or a perpetual thing is hard to say. I think for all parties involved, it’s a nothing more than a major win.