Cannes Lions

That's. March. Madness.

THE MARTIN AGENCY, Richmond / BUFFALO WILD WINGS / 2019

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Overview

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Credits

Overview

Background

This work was built specifically for March Madness, an epic sporting event where 64 college basketball teams compete over three weeks to become national champs. Because there are so many games and many played during the weekday while fans are at work, it creates some really bad watching experiences. Mainly, having to sneak in the games at the office. Heck, CBS.com even created a “boss button” that pops up a spreadsheet in case you were watching the games while the boss walked by. And wireless providers have been brainwashing people that it’s OK to watch the games on their phones. It’s not.

Idea

The sports fan was lost wandering alone watching March Madness all wrong. On their phone, in their cube at work, in the lonely man cave, or even on the radio. So we set out to rescue them and call them home to BWW. Whenever they streamed the game, were there with a spot that pretended to buffer. When they listened to the game on the radio, we reminded them that imagining the game is just dumb. Whenever the games went into overtime, we aired the very first commercial that encouraged them to get down to BWW for the final five minutes. We even made custom barstools for guys recovering from vasectomies (yep, vasectomies increase during March Madness® because it’s an excuse for guys to sit on the couch and binge-watch the games for a couple days).

Strategy

Our big epiphany was that sports animals have been tamed. Fans no longer gather at bars, but instead they’ve been convinced by corporate America that they should stream the game on their phones, or watch on the laptop at work, or even worse — while hiding in their lonely man caves. We conducted a deprivation study across the country and forced fans to stay home and watch their team play instead of going to the bar. It became clear that camaraderie with other fans was the biggest thing they missed. The contagious energy of people going wild is what made the game so great. And that’s something that could never be experienced on a phone, at work, or at home. They needed to be rescued.

Execution

We launched on Selection Sunday with a :60 that called out fans for watching the games all wrong. And never let up throughout the three-week tournament. We had four TV executions that ran during the games throughout the tournament. We built contextual creative for all the media platforms — digital videos that messed with people because it was game footage that pretended to buffer. Radio ads that made fun of people trying to imagine what’s happening. We even created a spot just for overtime that ran as the first commercial once the game went into overtime.

Outcome

We earned millions of media impressions, with many notable publications applauding Buffalo Wild Wings for their deep understanding of fandom, like ESPN, New York Post, GQ and more. As Forbes said, “There's a beautiful truth behind this effort that gives Buffalo Wild Wings authenticity in the March Madness culture.”

But the result we’re most proud of is this: we had an 8% increase in YoY sales during the launch weekend. This is unprecedented, considering Buffalo Wild Wings has had X consecutive quarters of decline prior to this March Madness initiative.

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