College and professional football season is upon us, which (hopefully) means pigskin fanatics are looking for a good spot to watch their favorite teams duke it out on TV. To make your bar the place to be, you’ll need to be in the know on upcoming games, local action and the hot rivalries, not to mention the right screens and sports programming systems to bring the excitement of the games into your bar. Of course, you’ll also need to have plenty of cold beer, creative cocktails, good food and attractive deals to get the fans to come through your door and keep them in the house for all four quarters and beyond.
Here are the important dates: College football kickoff is Thursday, Sept. 3, with most games being played on Saturday, Sept. 6. For the pros, NFL season begins with the Thursday night opening game on Sept. 10, which lines up Super Bowl champions Pittsburgh Steelers against the Tennessee Titans.
Football season can be a sales boon for bars, restaurants and nightclubs, especially if you’ve got the televisions queued up for the next game — and the promotions flowing.
Savvy operators kick-off the season with promotions that deliver value and a little something different. But you’re not on your own; numerous suppliers offer football-themed promotions, ideas and recipes. Read on to see some successful operator programs and what suppliers can offer to help out your venue — and your bottom line – this football season.
Winning Bar Promotions
Public House’s Cleveland Browns Sunday
Last year, Cleveland’s Public House was a finalist in Nightclub & Bar’s Five Star Awards for its Cleveland Browns Sunday promotion. Combining the die-hard dedication of Browns fans and the abysmal winter weather of Cleveland, Public House owner Kevin Kelly tackled the promotion head-on. Every Sunday (plus the lone Thursday and Monday) the Browns have a game, patrons can stop by at any time and submit one entry per person for a seven-night Super Cruise for two (www.supercruise.net) and a chance to share in more than $100,000 in prizes. “We receive the cruise at a substantial discount, so the cost factor [to Public House] is only $50 per entry day,” Kelly explains. Patrons return week after week to submit their entries and increase their chances of winning; the promotion is now the venue’s most popular promotional tool, thus driving traffic on a traditionally slow day. And the drawing day is a huge event day, he says. Kelly captures e-mail addresses on drawing entries, which enables additional marketing and generates loyalty and return business throughout the year.
Station Casinos’ 2009-2010 Football Promotion
Las Vegas and Henderson, Nev.
This season, Station Casinos will offer a variety of specials in which sports fans can indulge. Examples include $10 buckets of five Budweiser or Bud Light bottles during Monday and Thursday night professional football games, $1 hot dogs during Sunday NFL games and $5 shot specials. To promote the specials, Station Casino properties will use table tents and posters, and each location can customize its promotions through an online system.
MNF Promotion at Pink Monkey
Under new ownership, Pink Monkey, an adult entertainment venue in Chicago, intends to run a Monday Night Football promotion. With half-price admission, guests will enjoy a complimentary halftime buffet, prizes during every quarter and other discounts. The venue will run games like “Guess the Score” for prizes.
Balloon Drop at Stir-Ups Parlor and Saloon
Green Bay, Wis.
As Packers season approaches, Stir-Ups Parlor and Saloon readies for its Balloon Drop promotion. At midnight each evening before a home Packers game, employees drop more than 100 balloons filled with prizes over the dance floor. Prize coupons include free T-shirts, free drinks, covered bar tabs and free tickets to the Packers game, supplied by a local beer distributor. “It’s a great draw for our local customer base and has even drawn repeat business from out-of-towners,” says general manager Chris Nachtwey.
Fantasy Football Drafts at PT’s and Sierra Gold
Las Vegas, Henderson, Nev. and Reno, Nev.
To catch those last-minute fantasy leaguers, PT’s and Sierra Gold taverns offer specials for fans hosting their fantasy football drafts. During the draft, fans receive half off all food and beverage purchases. Select locations have Wi-Fi available, and all draft groups receive a free fantasy football draft kit.
Game Day Drinks at Hall of Fame Cafés
Throughout the Midwest
At the Buckeye Hall of Fame Café in Columbus, Ohio, — as well as other Hall of Fame Cafes in the Midwest — college football fans can imbibe football-themed drinks created by the café and Monin Gourmet Flavoring’s beverage innovation director Angela Thompson. Some clever concoctions include: The Halfback: Jack Daniel’s, Monin Blackberry, sweet and sour and cranberry juice served over ice; The Safety (pictured): Southern Comfort, Monin Chipotle Pineapple and lemonade topped with a splash of Sierra Mist; The Time Out: Pyrat Rum, Monin Mango, fresh lemon juice and tonic served on the rocks with a fresh pineapple garnish; and the Fourth and Goal: Finlandia Vodka, Jack Daniel’s, Tuaca, triple sec, sweet and sour and Monin Mango, shaken and served on the rocks and topped with Sierra Mist.
Food and Drink at Murphy’s Bar & Grill
For football fanatics visiting Murphy’s Bar & Grill in Urbandale, Iowa, game day gets even more exciting with the venue’s food and beverage deals. On college football Saturdays, patrons can enjoy $2.25 domestic beer pints, $12.50 domestic beer buckets (five bottles) or 20 wings for $10. For those Thursday evening college games, owner Pete Murphy also offers guests a two-for-one large pizza deal as well as the venue’s B.A.G.S. (Big Ass Glass of Suds) for $3.50 (domestic). And for Sunday superfans, Murphy’s offers $12.50 Coors Light buckets (five bottles), $5 bombs and $12 large pizzas.
Michael Collins Irish Whiskey Football Kit
This football season, from September to December, Michael Collins Irish Whiskey is reaching out to its target consumers (21- to 35-year-olds, mostly male) to build brand awareness and educate consumers with its Michael Collins Football Kit. Included in the kits are replica football jerseys, male and female T-shirts, a poster, 12 sliding schedules, five foam footballs and 50 branded plastic cups. POS supplements feature drinks and provide ways to interact with customers. The promotion will focus on two drinks: The Big Fellow (straight) and The Dublin Apple (involving sour apple schnapps and cranberry juice). For more information, visit www.michaelcollinswhiskey.com.
Football Helmet Stir Sticks by SSP Inc.
Add a special swizzle to each drink to get the crowd cheering — and buying — with SSP Inc.’s new football helmet stir sticks. The 6-inch-long sticks are available in assorted colors or translucent options, and bio- and oxo-degradable versions are available. For an extra special touch, brand them with the local team name or your bar’s logo. For more information, visit www.stirsticks.com or contact [email protected].
“Jimmy Football” Promos from Bud Light
Bud Light by Anheuser-Busch is all about football — especially the party around it. This season, Bud Light introduces Jimmy Football, the official Bud Light “tailgate approved” pitchman. There will be a full line of tailgate-tested/tailgate-approved innovations to enhance the football party experience, including point-of-sale, signmaking and Jimmy Football endorsed, “tailgate approved” products like the Foozie (combination foam finger and can koozie) and a three-in-one condiment gun. This program will be supported with an extensive media buy, including national and cable sports TV, digital, print and radio, according to Greg Fleischut, vice president, on-premise sales, Anheuser-Busch, Inc. Contact your local Anheuser-Busch sales representative for details.
I Love Sports Promotion from Brew City
Brew City’s I Love Sports Campaign, which runs from Aug. 1-Jan. 31, offers your venue the chance to win up to $10,000 in prizes. To get involved, choose dates and events for a Brew City promotion, order Brew City products and then promote and run your event. Afterward, submit your success form and event photos for a chance to win; first prize is $2,500, second prize gets $1,500 and eight third $750 prizes will be awarded. Events will be judged on creativity, execution, photo quality/content, Brew City sales and completed forms. Last year’s winner, T-Bock’s in Decorah, Iowa, increased overall sales 137 percent and beverage sales 111 percent with its Brew City Brew Something Good charity event. Some event ideas from Brew City include Tuesday Tickets and Earn Your Racing Stripes, explained below:
—TUESDAY TICKETS: Tuesdays during football season, feature a Brew City appetizer special. Give away one entry to a "Tuesday Tickets" contest with each special ordered. Then, hold a weekend drawing for a pair of tickets to a major local sporting event. Add repeat business by requiring patrons be present to win.
—EARN YOUR RACING STRIPES: Give away racing trivia sheets with each Brew City order. Every hour, ask a new round of racing trivia questions. Award one winner (per hour) Brew City gear. (visit www.usefultrivia.com/sports_trivia for question ideas)
For more information, visit www.brewcityusa.com or call 1-866-4BREWCITY (1-866-427-3924).
Tooters Promotions’ Football Glass
Tooters Promotions’ 18-ounce plastic football glass is a great way for patrons to pass around their favorite beverages during the season. No matter what level of football they’re watching, a football-shaped glass is a great way to step up the drink game. Additionally, Tooters offers a Tooter tube, which can be used as a floater in beverages, or a hanging side car shot glass. Any of the products can be imprinted with team names, events or venue names. For more information, visit www.tooters.com or call (800) 552-0564, extension 5.
Snap N Win Cards
Snap N Win, a patent-pending customizable card, can be used as an instant win item for on-premise football-related promotional contests. The card has three components: the snap out option, which generally is magnetic and has a product logo or bar name on it and can be oval, rectangular or customized into the shape of a beer can, beer bottle, football or team logo; the prize message, found underneath the snap out option that can serve as an immediate redemption prize or sends them to a web site to enter to win; and the backside image. Snap N Win also offers the following services: customized micro sites, contest design, rewards and fulfillment, turnkey points programs, street teams, e-mail blasts, text contests, viral programs, print support, vehicle wraps and tradeshow banners. Some examples of how to use Snap N Win include:
—All patrons receive card on the way into the bar. Three prizes are included on the card, such as free dinner, free drink or free fries.
—At halftime of the game, all patrons receive their Snap N Win cards; grand prize could be free game tickets, second prize could be free dinner and third prize could be a free drink.
—Buy a Drink, Get a Card — Collect All Three. Get all three cards and patrons qualify to enter for the grand prize drawing; drawing is held at the end of the third quarter.
—All patrons receive card on the way into the bar (or at the end of a particular quarter) and must go online to receive a prize.
For more information, visit www.snapnwin.com.
Tabasco Recipes for Success
Offering creative and fun food and drink specials can boost sales within a venue, especially on game days. Check out some of the recipes Tabasco provided below to find a new fan favorite.
Finger Lickin’ Hot Shrimp Snacks
Yield: 34 to 36 Pieces
1 lb. shrimp, cooled
½ cup onion
4 Tbsp. Original Tabasco Pepper Sauce
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. granulated garlic
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. dry parsley
3 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp. red pepper, minced
2 tsp. baking powder
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except milk. Add milk slowly and mix into a thick pancake consistency. Allow to sit 5 minutes. Scoop into a deep fryer (350 degrees) and fry for 4 to 5 minutes, making sure shrimp are completely cooked in center.
Super Bowl Kick Off Cheese Balls
Yield: 26 to 28 cheese balls
3 Tbsp. Tabasco Garlic Pepper Sauce
8 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces cheddar cheese spread
¼ lb. butter
½ cup black olives, chopped
3 Tbsp. green onions, sliced
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 ½ cup pecans, finely chopped
Soften butter and cream cheese; mix all ingredients except pecans in a large bowl. Mix well, then scoop and place into chopped pecans and coat. Roll into balls. When finished, chill and serve.
4th and Goal Habanero Popcorn
Yield: 5 Servings
1 cup popping corn kernels
Vegetable oil, as needed
Salt, to taste
¼ cup butter
Tabasco Habanero Pepper sauce, to taste
Pop the kernels according to directions. Melt the butter and whip in Tabasco Habanero Pepper Sauce. Pour the popped corn into a large bowl; toss the popcorn while adding habanero butter. Season with salt. Pour out onto a pan and dry in a 300° oven for 10 minutes. Serve hot.