SBD/May 8, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Playing Chicken: Georgia-Based Zaxby's Signs Sponsorship Deal With 25 Colleges

Zaxby's has struck sponsorship deals with 25 universities in an effort to market itself as the official chicken of college sports. The deals were brokered by IMG College. The restaurant chain, which is based in Athens, Ga., has 570 locations across 13 states, most of them in the Southeast, and that is reflected in the schools where Zaxby's will be. Zaxby's CEO & co-Founder Zach McLeroy called the deals a "monumental partnership" and said they "keep us true to our roots" as a company started in a college town. Zaxby's has developed a special collective logo featuring the 25 partnering colleges designed to identify itself as "The Official Chicken of College Sports." The restaurant will be integrated into football and basketball games at each of the participating schools with broadcast radio spots and video board programming features such as the "Zaxby's Sack Cam" and "Zaxby's Dunk Cam," as well as online ad placement on each school's athletic website. Listed by conference, Zaxby's has deals with Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt in the SEC; Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech in the ACC; Baylor in the Big 12; Indiana and Purdue in the Big Ten; Arkansas State and Western Kentucky in the Sun Belt and Houston, Southern Miss and Tulane in Conference USA. A separate deal with Clemson also was struck. IMG owns the rights at most of the schools, but CBS Collegiate Sports Properties has LSU and Learfield Sports has rights to some of the schools as well. These deals are expected to challenge the stronghold Chick-fil-A has in the space, especially in the Southeast. Chick-fil-A sponsors a bowl game in Atlanta and also spends heavily to advertise on ESPN's college coverage.
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