By Barry Janoff
March 17, 2017: As the official hangout for NCAA March Madness, Buffalo Wild Wings knows a few things about wings, beer and making unusual things happen in sports.
Sprinkler systems turned on. Lights turned off. Men in black and aliens possibly responsible for the interceptions that Brett Favre threw during his NFL career.
And the cryptic connection between the "Hit the Button" device found in Buffalo Wild Wings locations and the inexplicable plays that happen during games when fans and customers "activate" them.
An official NCAA partner since 2013 via a three-year deal that was renewed last year, B-Dubs is bringing a full-out humorous multi-platform, "We Do It For You," into the 2017 NCAA hoops tournament, including TV, Internet, social media, in-restaurant at some 1,200 locations and on-site Final Four activation in Phoenix.
"For years, fans have pointed a finger at Buffalo Wild Wings on social media when an unexplained event happens, a game goes into overtime or they want us to intervene in the outcome," Bob Ruhland, vp-marketing for Buffalo Wild Wings, said in a statement.
"This year, we wanted to continue to extend this popular idea that Buffalo Wild Wings can make games more exciting and if our fans want something to happen — from rallying their team from a deficit to leveling the playing field — we would find a way to make that a reality."
Buffalo Wild Wings will again seek to "own" overtime, during which it gets extra time to promote itself, by encouraging fans and customers to "Hit the button."
The brand, indeed, took "credit" for the first overtime in Super Bowl history this past February when it said it received more than 7,500 requests on Twitter to do so, via the hash tag #HitTheButton.
For March Madness, when a game goes into overtime, B-Dubs will immediately air a spot called "Overtime Time," which "encourages fans to enjoy the five extra minutes of free basketball and not question who or what might have caused it," according to B-Dubs.
Buffalo Wild Wings will get air time during March Madness games on CBS and Turner Sport’s TBS, TNT and truTV via a series of spots reminiscent of The Twilight Zone TV show.
Lead agency is TBWA\Chiat\Day LA.
In "No. 7," a member of the B-Dubs staff grants the wish of a customer watching hoops on TV to "remove No. 7 from the game," with the player transported from the action and appearing dazed and confused at the table.
"FooDoo" finds a vegetable appetizer in the shape of a voodoo doll able to impact action on the court, initially to the joy of the customers who ordered it but then to their dismay when the breaking of the talisman’s carrot leg appears to break the leg of a player in a game.
"Rally Beard" sees a clean-shaven Buffalo Wild Wings employee comply when two customers watching NCAA March Madness on TV need to help their team stage a rally — willing himself to grow a rally beard. One problem: he can't stop the beard from growing even after the rally has been successful.
"For years, fans have pointed a finger at Buffalo Wild Wings on social media when an unexplained event happens."
Among the ways that Buffalo Wild Wings is "putting the power in our fans hands" will be via Facebook (11.9 million followers) and Twitter, where B-Dubs will share videos and GIFs that visitors "can use to try to distract opponents on their own"with "Tools of Distraction" (a rally beard, free throw gong, an inflatable, dancing tube fan).
On Instagram, Buffalo Wild Wings is building "Instagram Stories" that offer people a "playbook tutorial for using B-Dubs' menu items to help affect games just by tapping through each step of the play."
B-Dubs said that people who use the #HitTheButton hash tag could find their tweets scrolled in real-time on the hoops-dedicated Web site, which offers TV scheudules and other March Madness items.
At the Final Four Fan Fest in Phoenix, the Buffalo Wild Wings Sports Lounge will include a Rally Beard Photo Op station, flat-screen TVs airing tournament coverage, a Blazin’ Challenge wing eating contest, Pop-a-Shot free-throw games and appearances by March Madness TV analysts and former coaches including Steve Lavin and Seth Greenberg.
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