Buffalo Wild Wings sells season passes to feed and entertain NFL fans

Dive Brief:

  • Buffalo Wild Wings is selling season tickets to let fans watch Cleveland Browns games at 10 local sports bars within a seating section themed around The Dawg Pound, a special fan section at the team’s stadium, according to a statement emailed to Marketing Dive.
  • The $750 season ticket package includes four seats per game for all 16 game days, 15 traditional wings, 15 boneless wings, fries, nachos and fountain drinks for the table, per the company’s email. Customers will also receive Browns merchandise, including a custom Dawg Pound mask and cooler. A $99 digital Blazin’ season ticket package includes 10 boneless or traditional wings during the 17 weeks of the regular season. Customers can buy tickets via Stubhub.
  • The brand, which has dabbled in experiential marketing in the past, is tailoring its latest effort to football fans who are eager to return to indoor dining and miss the game day experience.

Dive Insight:

Buffalo Wild Wings is testing whether it can bring customers back into restaurants with an experience tailored to loyal Cleveland Browns fans. Restaurants have been hard hit by ordinances prohibiting in-person dining during the early days of the coronavirus. Even as some restrictions are lifting, many consumers remain unsure about returning to in-person dining. For those who aren’t in the Cleveland area or plan to remain close to home, the restaurant chain is making its Blazin’ Season Ticket digital package available for 1,000 football fans.

With this campaign, Buffalo Wild Wings appears to be returning to experiential marketing following a pause driven by COVID-19, which disrupted in-person events and dining inside restaurants. In March, the chain had to cancel its bed-and-breakfast-style sleepover in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood because of the pandemic.

Before the health crisis, a number of brands were experimenting with experiential hospitality, including Oscar Meyer, Taco Bell and Jim Beam, as a way to engage loyal customers and extend a brand’s positioning into lifestyle marketing. While the strategy has taken a hit because of the coronavirus, some marketers have pivoted to more digitally oriented experiences.

Buffalo Wild Wings’ attempt at luring customers back into restaurants has come after the company recently underwent leadership changes. In June, Seth Freeman, who led the company’s social media strategy and re-introduced buy-one get-one deals, departed the company after less than two years with no reason. The company hired Rita Patel to serve as its chief marketing officer in August. Patel brings previous experience with other brands like Wrigley, Miller Coors and Target.

With ongoing uncertainty around whether or not consumers will return to in-person dining or even if restrictions against such activities will be reinstated, Buffalo Wild Wings is experimenting with ways to revamp experiential marketing to appeal to both those who are eager to return to normal activities and those who are sticking close to home.

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