It was a tenuous situation after last year’s football season ended, leaving many players, fans and businesses wondering if there would even be a 2011 NFL football season.
Savvy operators planned alternatives, such as Buffalo Wild Wings, whose management team created the “Save Our Season” Facebook campaign, awarding six free chicken wings to every user who signed the petition, while others, such as the programming team at NTN Buzztime, developed The Season, a trivia game that has players competing as their favorite NFL teams throughout the season.
With football season back, it's time to get patrons flocking to your establishment on game day.
"Football season is our best season,” explains Rachel Phillips-Luther, Vice President of Marketing at Wichita, Kan.-based Fox and Hound Restaurant Group. “We look forward to it all year. If we didn’t create excitement or energy around football, it could be detrimental to our brand."
At Fox and Hound, Phillips-Luther says the strategy for football season begins by hosting fantasy draft parties; each participant receives $50 off food purchases during the draft party.
Football season is important at Fox and Hound, where draft parties position the brand as the go-to location for football.
This year, Phillips-Luther explains Fox and Hound is paying close attention to commissioners who create leagues of six or more. The incentive involves a weekly newsletter highlighting player injuries, as well as game-day clips or sports blurbs. Additionally, each league commissioner receives a gift card that that is loaded with $25 at the first of the month from September through December.
This is “our way to say, ‘Here’s a reward for fulfilling this position [as commissioner],’” notes Phillips-Luther, ultimately giving Fox and Hound locations a leg up on the competition. Because of this, the restaurant group has experienced a 25% increase in draft parties booked to date.
“The initial strategy, and the reason anyone is looking to host draft parities, is it helps position the brand as the place for football,” she explains of the 84-unit concept. “Beyond that, it’s a great way to expose new people to the brand.”
Mike McNeil, Chief Marketing Officer at Hooters, understands this. The Atlanta-based company hosted 25,000-league parties nationwide at its 460 locations, leading up to the first games of the season.
McNeil also pays close attention to college football. Every Saturday, Hooters features spokesperson and college football analyst Lee Corso, as well as a special wing offer: Buy 10 wings get 10 free. This is followed by Hooters’ Bowl season program, during which guests enter a sweepstakes for a chance to go to the NCAA college football Bowl Championship Series (BCS) game in New Orleans; Hooters offers a Super Bowl TV giveaway, as well.
“About half of the year is football season, so it is extremely important to our guests that they have a fun place to catch all the action with America’s Cheerleaders, the Hooters Girls,” McNeil says.
Operators also are flocking to Buzztime for The Season trivia game, which is synced with the NFL schedule.
“We came up with the concept in the springtime when there was a threat of no NFL season this year,” explains Justin Cooper, Senior Director of Programming for Buzztime. “We thought it was unlikely, but we thought about a plan B for us and our customers. How can we play out the year for the NFL, essentially, if there is no season.”
A trivia game at its core, the hour-long game has 44 questions — not all football related — and is played every Friday night at 8 p.m. EST. Players sign up at the Buzztime site, join their favorite NFL team and play with that same team’s fans across the country, earning points along the way.
Sports, most notably football, are an easy way to draw crowds to your establishment as long as you create promotions that are easy for the consumer to understand. If you start planning early enough and making a name for yourself as the go-to location for sports, such as Buffalo Wild Wings, Hooters and Fox and Hound, customers will seek you out every week for the big game.