By Barry Janoff
September 1, 2016: Buffalo Wild Wings, which has been the "official hangout for NCAA March Madness and other collegiate sports since 2013, has renewed and expended its alliance with the NCAA, designating it as the "official hangout for NCAA sports" and including special marketing and promotional activation in 2019 when the Div. I Men’s Final Four takes place in Minneapolis,, where the chain is headquartered.
Financial terms of the new multi-year pact were not disclosed.
The entitlement, which coincides with the start of the NCAA college football season, now includes marketing, media and activation rights surrounding all 90 NCAA championships.
The brand is also title sponsor for the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in Camping World Stadium, Orland, this season scheduled for New Year's Eve (ABC).
The deal was signed with the NCAA is through a joint agreement with Turner Sports and CBS Sports, which have the exclusive rights to license NCAA marks, tickets and taglines in commercial promotions with respect to the NCAA championships and hold certain exclusive media rights in the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.
Other official NCAA partners include corporate champions AT&T, Capital One and Coca-Cola; and corporate partners Allstate, Amazon Echo, Microsoft's Bing, Buick, Enterprise, Infiniti, Lowe's, LG, Nabisco, Northwestern Mutual, Reese's, Unilever and UPS.
In addition, Buffalo Wild Wings has become an official sponsor of 23 NCAA schools that would "provide Buffalo Wild Wings with a variety of marketing rights including access to in-venue branding, radio spots, digital exposure and unique promotional opportunities for fans.
These deals were handled in conduction with IMG College and Learfield Sports, both of which have exclusive multi-media rights deals with specific universities nationwide.
The NCAA sponsorship includes media rights to "help extend Buffalo Wild Wings’ presence across NCAA and championship broadcasts, on-site exposure at all Championships and NCAA-related events, and marketing rights surrounding NCAA March Madness, NCAA Men’s Final Four, NCAA Men’s College World Series and other National Championships."
Buffalo Wild Wings said it would also create "various promotions and ticket giveaways that allow its more than 1,100 restaurants in the United States to bring college sports to life for fans in local markets."
“Buffalo Wild Wings’ heritage is deeply rooted in collegiate athletics and our relationships with the NCAA and 23 schools offer even more opportunities to connect with college sports fans in our restaurants, on television and across digital and social platforms,” Sally Smith, CEO for Buffalo Wild Wings, said in a statement. “With rights across all NCAA Championships, we’re able to offer our fans the ultimate game-day experience, no matter their favorite college sport or team.”
Via IMG College, Buffalo Wild Wings is now a partner with with 11 schools including UCLA, University of Connecticut, Duke University, University of Florida, University of Georgia, University of Kansas, University of Michigan, University of Nebraska, Rutgers University, University of Texas and University of Washington.
Through Learfield, Buffalo Wild Wings serves as the “Official Hangout” of 12 schools, including University of Alabama, University of Illinois, Indiana University, University of Louisville, University of Miami, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri, University of North Carolina, University of Oklahoma, Oregon State University, Texas A&M University and University of Wisconsin.
“With rights across all NCAA Championships, we’re able to offer our fans the ultimate game-day experience, no matter their favorite college sport or team.”
To support the deal, Buffalo Wild Wings unveiled a spot, "Spirit Never Sleeps: The Secret Lives of College Football Mascots."
In the spot, mascots "put their rivalries aside" and explain why "B-Dubs is their go-to destination for the ultimate sports experience when they aren’t cheering from the sidelines."
Mascots featured include: Baby Jay (Kansas), Rameses (UNC), Goldy Gopher (Minnesota), Truman the Tiger (Missouri), Bevo (Texas), Dubs (Washington), Bucky Badger (Wisconsin), Sebastian the Ibis (Miami) and Joe Bruin (UCLA).
According to Mark Lewis, NCAA executive vice president for championships and alliances, “We’re extremely pleased that Buffalo Wild Wings has decided to renew its NCAA Corporate Partner sponsorship and will continue supporting NCAA student-athletes academically and athletically.
“Buffalo Wild Wings is certainly a favorite establishment for college sports fans, thus earning it the title of Official Hangout for NCAA Sports. They’ve created great fan interactives at our NCAA championships and we look forward to working with them in the years to come,” said Lewis.
According to IMG College, college sports have some 190 million fans and official sponsors and partners have "invested $15.5 billion to college rights feels over the next 10-15 years."
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