Restaurants leverage football season for new promotions

Sept. 21, 2012 | by Alicia Kelso

Football season is in full swing and plenty of restaurant brands across all segments are taking advantage of the sport's mass appeal by wooing loyal (and hungry) fans.

Stategic planning for these promotions began months ago. Marla Topliff, president of Rosati's Pizza, said her company typically starts preparing for the fall in late July.

"Football season is huge. The Super Bowl is the highest-selling day for pizza and when football season starts, things start picking up fast," she said.

Football-inspired promotions throughout the industry include:

Pizza Hut rolled out its Big Dinner Box, with two medium rectangular one-topping pan pizzas, five breadsticks and the choice of four Stuffed Pizza Rollers, one pan of Tuscani Pasta or eight wings for $19.99. To market the product, Pizza Hut recruited Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to appear in TV spots during NFL games.

Football season has also traditionally been Buffalo Wild Wings' busiest time of the year and the chain has kicked off a new integrated advertising campaign – with a "protect the football" theme – for the occasion.

Krispy Kreme has introduced a limited-edition football-shaped doughnut, available on weekends only through Feb. 3.

McDonald's Restaurants of Hawaii has created Touchdown Tuesdays, a new promotion in support of University of Hawaii Athletics. For every touchdown scored by the Warriors, McDonald's will donate $500 toward the UH Athletics program. Also, regardless of the score, on Touchdown Tuesdays customers can purchase a Touchdown Tuesdays meal (Quarter Pounder with Cheese Large Extra Value Meal) and get a second Quarter Pounder with Cheese added for free.

Colorado-based Einstein Brothers hosted a Denver Broncos Back to Football Friday Office Celebration Contest. Additionally, the chain unveiled its Broncos Bagel Bucket that includes 13-fresh baked bagels and choice of two shmears for $14.99.

Cincinnati-based Gold Star Chili is offering a full-sized Bengals-logoed football with the signatures of 24 Bengals players for $8 with the purchase of any combo meal. Gold Star is also offering free Bengals souvenir cups featuring the team's logo/imagery and the 2012 season schedule. Cups are free with the purchase of a large fountain beverage. Guests also have the chance to win home Bengals tickets via the brand's social media and e-Newsletter channels.

Tim Hortons Café & Shop is giving away 80 Napoleon Gourmet Grills at various tailgate parties throughout the fall. Tim Hortons Cafe & Bake Shop also features its Game Day Donuts collection, custom created Vanilla Dip donuts adorned with sprinkles in team colors for high school, college and professional teams.

In its latest commercial, Peyton Manning has convinced Papa John's to give away 2 million free pizzas as part of the chain's sponsorship as the Official Pizza of the NFL. During every week in the NFL season, the company will give away 120,000 free pizzas to Papa Rewards members. Papa John's is also offering discounts to loyalty members in select markets when the home team wins. For example, when the Louisville Cardinals win a football game, Louisville area loyalty members get an email offering 45-percent off of online orders the day after the win.

Wendy's nationwide Ultimate Baconator Challenge Tour, which is on a mission to find "bacon's biggest fans," is stopping in 20 towns and tailgating at a handful of college football games. During the stops, Wendy's will give away more than 30,000 Son of Baconator sandwiches, as well as free samples of Wendy's Frosty, gift cards and bacon-themed T-shirts and merchandise.

Dunkin' Donuts is giving New York, New Jersey and select Connecticut fans the chance to have breakfast with NY Giants quarterback Eli Manning at MetLife Stadium for the "Giant Breakfast HuDDle with Eli" Facebook sweepstakes. Manning is also starring in Dunkin' Donuts advertisements that launched earlier this month in the Metro New York area. The ads feature Manning promoting Dunkin' Donuts Big N' Toasted and Smoked Sausage Sandwich.

A blog in questioned whether fans could see Big 12 logos on Sonic burgers in the area, after a (University of Louisiana at Lafayette) Ragin' Cajun Burger was spotted at the chain in Lafayette, La. The burger features a school logo baked into the bun.

Read more about marketing and promotions.

Topics: Customer Service / Experience , Food & Beverage , Marketing / Branding / Promotion , Online / Mobile / Social , Papa John's , Pizza Hut

Alicia Kelso / Alicia has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with, and has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, and Franchise Asia magazine.
View Alicia Kelso's profile on LinkedIn

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