Buffalo Wild Wings, a brand that has become synonymous with sports, has announced that it has entered into a partnership with the NCAA. The agreement designates Buffalo Wild Wings as the “Official Hangout of March Madness” and includes marketing, media, and activation rights related to all 89 NCAA championships through 2016.
The announcement comes on the heels of the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, the company’s first major sports sponsorship, which was held Dec. 29 in Tempe, Ariz. The NCAA relationship is another key affiliation for Buffalo Wild Wings as it continues to integrate with sports that are popular with its core customer base.
“Sports are part of Buffalo Wild Wings’ DNA,” says Kathy Benning, Buffalo Wild Wings executive vice president of global brand and business development. “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.”
“Buffalo Wild Wings is a prominent national brand with mass appeal that resonates with our NCAA fan base,” says Mark Lewis, NCAA executive vice president for championships and alliances. “We are eager to welcome them to the NCAA family so they can activate around the NCAA championship. When you visit a Buffalo Wild Wings, you can’t help but feel the positive energy in the restaurants, especially when college sports fans are viewing the many NCAA sporting events there. We look forward to that same energy and enthusiasm to continue to support NCAA student-athletes and their accomplishments.”
The sponsorship, sold through CBS Sports and Turner Sports, includes media rights that will increase Buffalo Wild Wings game-day broadcast presence over the next four years. The marketing rights provide 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, historically top drivers to Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants. Specific program details will be announced as they roll out to Buffalo Wild Wings Guests.
“College sports fans are some of the most passionate fans out there,” Benning says. “The NCAA partnership will open new doors for us to fuel that passion and introduce new fans to the Buffalo Wild Wings experience.”
“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,” says Will Funk, senior vice president of NCAA Partnerships and Branded Programming within Turner Sports. “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.”
“Buffalo Wild Wings is one of the largest and most popular casual dining restaurant and sports viewing destinations in the country,” says Chris Simko, senior vice president, CBS Sports Sales and Marketing. “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’.”