Get Your Restaurant in the Game

July 12, 2016 | blog | By Mike Sullivan

Whether it’s win or lose, baseball or football, one thing restaurants can count on is hungry fans—millions of hungry fans. Fans are often so loyal to their favorite team that it becomes part of their personal identity. Show support for their team, and they’ll show support for your restaurant.

Here are some ways to draw fans to your restaurant.

Be Part of the Game
Team up with local stadiums to give away prizes. For example, run a contest where the winner gets the chance to shoot the cannon off before a game, throw the first pitch, flip the coin in the coin toss, meet a favorite player or coach, or get tickets for prime seats.

Scoring Discounts
Papa John’s Rangers7 and Cowboys20 promotions are examples of highly anticipated offers tied to the outcome of a game. Another approach is to invite fans to predict the score for a chance to win.

Ladies Night
Guys aren’t the only sports fans; A Gallup poll suggests that women are increasingly engaged in watching sports. In fact about half of women of all income levels identify as sports fans. The NFL reports that a third of viewers are women. How about a special offer for women?


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Fantasy Fans
The Fantasy Sports Trade Association reports a fantasy sports audience of 57.4 million people, a number that has doubled since 2008. Sixty-six percent are male and 34 percent are female in higher income brackets. Your restaurant could host a league with weekly gatherings, watch parties, and prizes for fantasy winners each week and at the end of the season.

Bobbleheads are a big deal with the rarest and most collectible ones valued at thousands of dollars. It just goes to show the value of sports memorabilia. A unique sports souvenir has staying power, even if it’s a collectible mug or commemorative pin. License with the team and co-branded with your restaurant, and it can be a worthwhile investment that stays with your customer long after they’ve gone home.

Ticket Stub Discounts
Give the game-day crowd a reason to hit up your restaurant after the game. When a customer brings in a ticket stub from a local game, offer a discount or free drink or appetizer.

Variety of Games
Baseball may be the great American pastime, but plenty of other sports are gaining in popularity. Cater to sports that rarely get restaurant air time, and you could find your restaurant a game day favorite for a niche audience while building brand loyalty.

Following are the favorites according to the Harris Poll. Bear in mind that three percent said they weren’t sure about their favorite. For many sports fans, it’s hard to pick just one.

  • Pro football (33 percent)
  • Baseball (15 percent)
  • Men’s college football (10 percent)
  • Auto racing (6 percent)
  • Men’s pro basketball (5 percent) and ice hockey (5 percent)
  • Men’s soccer (4 percent) and men’s college basketball (4 percent)
  • Men’s golf (3 percent) and boxing (3 percent)
  • Swimming (2 percent) and track and field (2 percent)
  • Horse racing (1 percent); women’s soccer (1 percent); women’s college basketball (1 percent); women’s pro basketball (1 percent); and men’s tennis (1 percent)

Piggyback on the tailgating concept. Host an event outdoors with limited-time offers on tailgating foods and appetizers. You can also send a street team out to pass out coupons and swag to tailgaters at local sports events.

Get the fans psyched for the upcoming season. Host a meet and greet with star players from your home sports team. Provide games, face painting, pictures and autographs, etc. Let the players say a few words to get everyone excited for the upcoming season.

Art for the Win
Let the littlest customers draw a picture of their favorite hometown professional sports player or mascot, or offer a coloring contest with categories for kids and adults. Use the contest to encourage activity on social. Whataburger was recently among the first to capitalize on the adult coloring book phenomenon with a coloring contest for grownups.

Regardless of the sport, if you want to be in the game, enhance the fan experience for your customers. Show them that you’re on their team.


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Mike Sullivan

President at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency


We challenge underdog brands to think differently. We help them find their voice, and urge them to blaze new trails to make sure they stand out from the pack. Whether you need an agency of record or support on a project, we are here to help you win.