By Barry Janoff
October 7, 2013: After testing a limited promotion with the NCAA earlier this year, Burger King has decided to go all-in, signing a three-year deal making it an official corporate partner and the official quick service restaurant of the NCAA.
The alliance will be a supported by year-round marketing program with sponsorships of all 89 college sports championships, including March Madness and the NCAA men's and women's Div. 1 basketball Final Four.
Financial details were not disclosed.
"By partnering with the NCAA, we will join in the brand's commitment to education and college athletics creating a national and local marketing platform that truly connects our two iconic brands with the fans that love them," Eric Hirschhorn, CMO-North America for Burger King Worldwide, said in a statement. "We are inspiringly passionate about great food and quality service. The goal is to embed the Burger King brand in the fan excitement surrounding [the] NCAA March Madness championship and the other 89 NCAA championships."
The Burger King-NCAA partnership adds a significant player to the list of QSR and fast-feeder brands officially aligned with sports leagues. Rival McDonald's has been getting national exposure as an official marketing partner of the NHL and NFL, which also lists Papa John's on its roster. Taco Bell is an official NBA and MLB partner.
The Burger King deals includes media, merchandising and on-site event opportunities, and allows the brand to use all NCAA trademarks and logos.
Miami-headquartered Burger King said it would have a customized, national TV campaign surrounding the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament on TNT, TBS, truTV and CBS; as well as a "comprehensive digital campaign" on March Madness Live, NCAA.com, Bleacher Report and CBSSports.com.
The deal was part of a 14-year multi-media agreement with the NCAA, CBS and Turner Sports are licensed and collaborate on the NCAA corporate marketing program.
NCAA corporate champions are AT&T, Capital One and Coca-Cola. In addition to Burger King, official corporate partners include Allstate, Buffalo Wild Wings, Buick, Enterprise, Infiniti, LG, Lowe's, Nabisco, Northwestern Mutual, Reese's (Hershey's), Unilever and UPS.
Burger King partnered with the NCAA for a "Be the King" sweepstakes, driven via social media, that was tied to March Madness 2013. In 2009, Burger King sponsored on-air polls conducted by CBS Sports relating to college football and basketball, including March Madness and the Final Four.
According to Keith Martin, managing director for NCAA championships and alliances, "Burger King is one of the most recognized national and global quick service restaurant brands in the food service industry, and we're excited they've decided to join our corporate champion and partner family in support of NCAA student-athletes and NCAA championships."
As part of a 14-year multi-media agreement with the NCAA, CBS and Turner Sports are licensed and collaborate on the NCAA corporate marketing program.
"Top brands continue to partner with the NCAA, Turner Sports and CBS Sports for exclusive access to 89 NCAA championships, which includes the Final Four."
"Top brands continue to partner with the NCAA, Turner Sports and CBS Sports for exclusive access to 89 NCAA championships, which includes the Final Four," said Martin. "We look forward to Burger King brand's participation in our corporate partner family and its commitment to education and college athletics."
"Burger King brand's extensive franchisee network and guest base is clearly passionate about great food and quality service, just as fans of intercollegiate athletics are deeply connected to and engaged with the schools they support," Chris Simko, svp-CBS Sports sales and marketing, said in a statement. "We are excited to launch this partnership between Burger King, the NCAA, CBS and Turner, providing more frequent NCAA championship interaction for these audiences across more touch points than ever before."