Restaurant chain Buffalo Wild Wings takes slightly surreal approach to its ‘Hit The Button’ March Madness’ work with a multi-platform campaign that has something of a mysterious, dark twist.
The initiative – which includes TV, social media and digital spots, along with in-restaurant and on-site activations at basketball games – launched in early March with a TV ad called ‘Number 7’.
The spot’s narrative follows an old-school ‘be careful what you wish for’ approach and sees a restaurant waiter approach a table of two college basketball fans and ask if she can get them anything else.
One customer quips ‘Yeah, you can get number 7 out of the game’ and she carefully writes down the note and then, hey presto, Number 7 appears magically out of thin air – much to all the diners confusion.
First posted on the brand’s YouTube channel on 11 March, ‘Number 7’ carries the tagline: ‘Some players are too good. And sometimes you need those players to leave for a bit while your team catches up.’
The launch commercial was followed by a second spot called ‘Foodoo’ which takes a similar approach to food-based punning – this time on the theme of the voodoo doll.
Foodoo, also posted on the brand’s digital and social platforms on 20 March, runs with the copy line ‘A foodoo doll. You know, like a voodoo doll but with food. You get it.’
Both ads, which were developed in harness with creative agency TBWA\Chiat\Day LA, close with a reminder that the chain is ‘The official hangout of March Madness’.
The ‘Foodoo’ doll also appears in the sponsor’s supporting social media campaign (in partnership with space150) running on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram along with a wide spectrum of content pieces all linked via the official campaign hashtag #HitTheButton.
Further social media elements include Facebook and Twitter videos, as well as GIFs designed to distract the opposing team
Mastering the art of distraction is all about getting inside your opponent's head. pic.twitter.com/GoDB7zg2N5
— Buffalo Wild Wings (@BWWings) March 6, 2017
and mascot themed game related GIFs too.
The time has come to start busting moves and brackets. pic.twitter.com/aC0lmmAyVl
— Buffalo Wild Wings (@BWWings) March 12, 2017
Welcome to day 2. Will more top seeds be flexing their muscles – or will upsets rule? pic.twitter.com/gBkfMEWlT6
— Buffalo Wild Wings (@BWWings) March 17, 2017
Plus there are Instagram Stories with a ‘playbook tutorial’ for using menu items to affect games and tweets where the #HitTheButton hashtag will scroll in real-time on the Buffalo Wild Wings website.
The social strand also includes a tournament-themed Snapchat filter that enables fans to highlight game moments and show their team support with a ‘rally beard’ (yes, really!).
— Buffalo Wild Wings (@BWWings) March 18, 2017
Fans can digitally scan and display rally beards via facial mapping tech to share on social.
— MrMichael (@mrmichael21) March 16, 2017
While customers at restaurants are also being given free physical rally beards from the Sweet 16 phase off the tournament
To further add to the mystery, the fast food (or, as it calls itself, the ‘casual restaurant’) brand is also offering a ‘secret menu item’ in-restaurant during the tournament.
The activation also includes an in-restaurant offer-led tie-up with fellow sponsor Capital One on its branded bracket initiative.
— Buffalo Wild Wings (@BWWings) March 14, 2017
The main message behind this eclectic initiative is described by Buffalo Wild Wings as a ‘unique ability to make games more exciting for fans everywhere’.
While its overall objective is to build awareness of the brand’s links to the tournament and drive foot traffic to Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants where people can watch their teams and enjoy the food/game experience.
‘March Madness is the most important thing within our calendar at this point and time,’ explains Buffalo Wild Wings marketing VP Bob Ruhland.
‘That’s not taking anything away from NHL or NBA that’s going on right now, but it’s just this influx of fans because of brackets they’ve created at home. They turn their attention to college hoops and watch how that unfolds.’’
March Madness? Marketing madness more like!
This NCAA-driven campaign fits in to the brands ongoing sports links and it certainly boasts an extremely wide variety of marketing channels to maximise traction from one of the year’s most buzzy and snacky sports properties.
Of course, March Madness has a focal fan base of college students, so it is sensible for the sponsor to utilise plenty of youth-centric channels like Snapchat and Instagram Stories.
But we feel that they might have thrown in too many trendy tech platforms here?
We also wonder whether the eclectic nature of the activation strands mean that, despite their best efforts, the social and digital components don’t quite tie in neatly with the in-restaurant and real-world campaign elements.
Plus, here at Activative we felt the dark humour is more eccentric and odd than comedic and funny.
But that might just be us.
The brand’s other recent sports led activations include its Brett Favre fronted pre-Super Bowl spots ‘Conspiracy’
and ‘Wall Of Truth’,
as well as its Citrus Bowl activation,
and its kid-focused ‘Flag Football’ sponsorship.