Special to NYSportsJournalism.com
January 23, 2013: In anticipation of the college basketball men's and women's tournaments and related national interest, the NCAA has added a new marketing partner and official designation to its roster, signing a deal that makes Buffalo Wild Wings the “official hangout of March Madness.”
The multi-year deal extends to all 89 NCAA championships through 2016. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The alliance follows the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, the company’s first major sports sponsorship, which was held Dec. 29 in Tempe, Ariz.
The deal includes marketing, media and activation rights that will increase over the next four years. Buffalo Wild Wings said it would have opportunities to "create consumer promotions and interact with fans at key NCAA events such as NCAA March Madness, including the NCAA Men’s Final Four and national championship, which the company cited as being "historically top drivers to Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants."
“Sports are part of Buffalo Wild Wings’ DNA,” Kathy Benning, evp-global brand and business development for Buffalo Wild Wings, said in a statement. “As we continually strive to enhance the game-day experience for sports fans in our restaurants, we are looking for ways to align with top sports properties and deepen our engagement with our guests. Buffalo Wild Wings and the NCAA share a deep heritage in college athletics, and this is an authentic way for us to connect with college sports fans in markets across the country.”
The sponsorship, sold through CBS Sports and Turner Sports.
The men's Div. I Final Four will be held in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, April 6 and April 8. The women's Div. I Final Four will be played in the New Orleans Arena April 7 and April 9.
According to Will Funk, svp-NCAA partnerships and branded programming within Turner Sports, “As a brand devoted to connecting with customers through sports affinity, Buffalo Wild Wings is a natural addition to the portfolio of NCAA corporate partners. We look forward to building on their commitment to sports marketing and the opportunity to develop NCAA-themed creative and marketing activations across all 89 NCAA championships to drive increased restaurant traffic and sales.”
Added Chris Simko, svp, CBS Sports sales and marketing, “Buffalo Wild Wings is one of the largest and most popular casual dining restaurant and sports viewing destinations in the country. They promote an atmosphere of fun and fellowship for college sports fans in communities in virtually all 50 states, uniquely qualifying their restaurants to serve as the ‘official hangout of March Madness’.”
NCAA corporate partners include (champions) AT&T, Capital One and Coca-Cola; (partners) Allstate, Buick, Infiniti, LG, Lowe's, Northwest Mutual, Reese's, Unilever, UPS and Wheat Thins; (licensing) EA Sports, Russell Athletic and Wilson.
A College Bowl Of Buffalo Wild Wings
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