Hooters Eyes College Hoops Tourney, MLB With 'Awesome' Marketing Campaign

Special to NYSportsJournalism.com

February 25, 2013: Hooters of America is not an official partner of the NCAA or Major League Baseball, but would like to grab its share of consumer eyeballs and dollars during the coming month via an new umbrella campaign that asks sports fans to "Step into Awesome."

The multi-media effort, the first for the national casual dining chain from ad agency Skiver, Atlanta, breaks this week anchored by a commercial "targeting sports broadcast programming to align with Hooters reputation as the ultimate sports-viewing destination."

The campaign coincides with the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, which run through March; the World Baseball Classic, which begins this weekend; and the 2013 MLB season, which starts March 31. In addition, Major League Soccer kicks off its 2013 season this week, and the NBA and NHL are heading toward their respective post-season games.

It also is a concerted effort to offset a move by rival Buffalo Wild Wings, which recently increased its alliance with the NCAA by signing a deal to become the "official hangout of March Madness,” which includes marketing, media and activation rights related to all 89 NCAA championships through 2016.

Hooters' response, according to its new commercial: Other sports restaurants (such as the faux Buffalo Wild Wings destination envisioned in the ad) can be annoying and drive you to distraction. So, as a voiceover explains, "Catch all true basketball action at your local Hooters. Why would you go anywhere else." (See the full spot here.)

The Hooters campaign comes with a heavy dose of social media, including a #StepIntoAwesome element that asks consumers "to share their "personal awesome moments" at Hooters via Twitter and Instagram; and a dedicated “Step Into Awesome” Web site, where, among other pieces, people will be able to vote for "the most awesome moments at Hooters."

“Our customers tell us that a visit to Hooters is a liberating experience. They leave their worries at the door and feel energized when they walk in,” Dave Henninger,  CMO for Atlanta-based Hooters of America, said in a statement. “With Skiver’s ‘Step Into Awesome’ approach, the new campaign brings the Hooters experience to life with great food and fun for our guests who relish being liberated from the ordinary.”

According to Hooters, the first spot "contrasts the experience at an ordinary sports bar and brings the fun to life as guests cheer for their favorite team and enjoy delicious food at Hooters."

“The campaign is a genuine look at what happens when guests walk through the door at Hooters. Rather than tell consumers, we show them the authentic, awesome experience,” Jeremy Skiver, chief executive officer, Skiver Advertising, said in a statement. “The campaign arose from key insights brought on by consumer research and a brand vision developed with franchise partners, showcasing what has been refreshed at Hooters, from an expanded menu to more contemporary and comfortable surroundings."

Hooters of Americais the franchisor and operator of more than 410 Hooters restaurants in 44 states and 27 foreign countries.

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