Jan 22, 2013 at 07:37 PM
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NCAA Adds 'Official Hangout of March Madness'

Buffalo Wild Wings, a brand that has heavily marketed to sports fanatics through clever TV ads and sports sponsorships, announced today that it has entered into a comprehensive marketing partnership with the NCAA ahead of March Madness. The agreement designates Buffalo Wild Wings as the "Official Hangout of March Madness" and includes marketing, media and activation rights related to all 89 NCAA championships through 2016.

The Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, held in Tempe this past December, was the company's first major sports sponsorship. In a statement, the company said that the latest deal with the NCAA helps advance its objective of integrating with sports that are popular with its core customer base.

"Sports are part of Buffalo Wild Wings' DNA," said Kathy Benning, Buffalo Wild Wings executive vice president of global brand and business development. "As we continually strive to enhance the game-day experience for sports fans in our restaurants, we are looking for ways to align with top sports properties and deepen our engagement with our Guests. Buffalo Wild Wings and the NCAA share a deep heritage in college athletics, and this is an authentic way for us to connect with college sports fans in markets across the country."

"Buffalo Wild Wings is a prominent national brand with mass appeal that resonates with our NCAA fan base," said Mark Lewis, NCAA executive vice president for championships and alliances. "We are eager to welcome them to the NCAA family so they can activate around the NCAA championship. When you visit a Buffalo Wild Wings, you can`t help but feel the positive energy in the restaurants, especially when college sports fans are viewing the many NCAA sporting events there. We look forward to that same energy and enthusiasm to continue to support NCAA student-athletes and their accomplishments."

The sponsorship, sold through CBS Sports and Turner Sports, includes media rights that will increase Buffalo Wild Wings game-day broadcast presence over the next four years. The marketing rights provide opportunities to create consumer promotions and interact with fans at key NCAA events such as NCAA March Madness, including the NCAA Men`s Final Four and National Championship, historically top drivers to Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants.

"College sports fans are some of the most passionate fans out there," Benning said. "The NCAA partnership will open new doors for us to fuel that passion and introduce new fans to the Buffalo Wild Wings experience."

"As a brand devoted to connecting with customers through sports affinity, Buffalo Wild Wings is a natural addition to the portfolio of NCAA Corporate Partners," said Will Funk, senior vice president of NCAA Partnerships and Branded Programming within Turner Sports. "We look forward to building on their commitment to sports marketing and the opportunity to develop NCAA-themed creative and marketing activations across all 89 NCAA Championships to drive increased restaurant traffic and sales."