SBJ/July 23-29, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Bowl takes a walk on the Wild side

Looking to authenticate its desired position as America’s sports bar of choice, the 847-location Buffalo Wild Wings chain has taken title sponsorship of the former Insight.com Bowl for the next three years.

The bowl game at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., between teams from the Big Ten and Big 12 conferences, which was originally the Copper Bowl and has been the Insight Bowl or Insight.com Bowl since 1997, now becomes the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

Officials would not release pricing, but the deal was being shopped at $2 million a year. Assets included with the deal are six ad units within the Dec. 29 ESPN game telecast, opening and closing billboards, broadcast graphics and inclusion in the game logo, which will appear at midfield, on each 25-yard line and on the game trophy.

Initial activation should begin next month and include mobile marketing efforts and ticket giveaways. The eventual plan is to tie in every Buffalo Wild Wings, with the chain expected to have around 900 locations by year’s end. Among those is a restaurant across the street from Sun Devil Stadium, which will morph into a “Super Buffalo Wild Wings” in December. The company is also expected to use bowl game imagery in its creative.

Insight has been associated with the Arizona bowl game since 1997.
Photo by: AP IMAGES
“We’re trying to be a brand for fans and create a stadium experience in our restaurants,” said Kathy Benning, Buffalo Wild Wings’ executive vice president, global marketing, brand and business development. “If we do this right, the bowl game will be like our restaurants and our restaurant experience will be tied in directly to our bowl game.”

The new bowl sponsorship comes as the chain is trying to link itself to sports more closely than ever. Its tag line is “Wings, Beer and Sports,” and its newest locations are being designed to be more like a stadium.

“We’re looking to build awareness and establish authenticity. We want sports fans to feel like Buffalo Wild Wings is their second home,” said Bob Ruhland, the brand’s vice president of marketing communications, adding that the chain had also looked at NFL and NCAA sponsorship opportunities before going with a bowl game.

Other restaurant chains with bowl game title sponsorships include Chick-fil-A, Outback, Little Caesars and Beef ‘O’ Brady’s.

Scout Sports and Entertainment negotiated the deal for the brand and will handle on-site activation.

Robert Shelton, executive director of the Fiesta Bowl — which administers this non-BCS game — called Buffalo Wild Wings a “dream partner.”

“They’re looking to grow their image as a destination for sports fans. They have a big interest in the areas of the country where the Big Ten and Big 12 are and they have a restaurant right next to the stadium,” Shelton said. “We couldn’t ask for much more.”
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