A Leading Play: Sports remain a natural partner to boost business

Flickr.com/Mike Farrington

Getting in the game can help score a healthier bottomline.

As the Dallas Mavericks thrust themselves into the 2011 NBA finals in quest of the franchise’s first National Basketball Association title, local residents and fans rallied behind the team with enthusiasm and spirit.

Fans wearing Mavs shirts blanketed the city. Sports radio filled with Mavs talk—tough to do in a football-crazed town dominated by the beloved Cowboys—and news stories shared fans’ daily excitement.

The euphoria inspired Dritan Saliovski, owner of the well-established Luigi’s Pizza in Frisco, Texas, to wonder how he might capitalize on the jubilation. He placed green-and-blue balloons in front of Luigi’s, while the staff donned Mavs’ shirts. But for Saliovski, who boasts a history of creative marketing at Luigi’s, the little changes failed to make the large-scale impact he desired.

“The ones who stay quiet are the ones who don’t survive,” Saliovski says of his marketing philosophy.

As the Mavericks prepared to host game three of the NBA Finals on Sunday, June 5, Saliovski unveiled his latest creation: a green-and-blue pizza, a Mavs-inspired tweak to his award-winning pie.

Customers responded enthusiastically, as did the local media, which ran to Luigi’s to share the eatery’s green-and-blue pizzas with locals. For the remainder of the NBA finals, sales and orders of the Mavs pizzas, a dish accomplished with little more than food dye, inventiveness, and quality control, escalated.

“We’d get calls from people hosting a viewing party and they’d place a bulk order,” Saliovski says, noting that the restaurant also introduced blue-dyed cannoli. “We were able to change up the mood and better connect to the fan experience.”

For many operators across the dining landscape—independents and chains, pizzerias and fine dining—aligning the restaurant with sports can boost both traffic count and the bottom line.

“If you can tap into sports, even a tiny bit,” Saliovski says, “it can produce success for your business.”

A multibillion-dollar industry, sports remain an active, engaging constant in America’s social climate. Unlike other hospitality ventures that lean heavily on trends — the nightclub business, for instance—there is nothing trendy about sports. Games are always on, fans are always involved, and popularity thrives from coast to coast. Connecting to sports and fans, many operators across the restaurant spectrum agree, can deliver a powerful punch to business.

To wit, observe these operations’ use of sports to bolster business.


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