Buffalo Wild Wings would have been significantly affected with NFL’s threatened lockout—but the chain was quick to find a way by making use of social media.
“Like football? Click here to join our petition to keep the season alive.”
“Sundays won’t be the same without football. Click here to join the movement to save Sundays.”
Such were the kind of shout-outs Buffalo Wild Wings had in their Facebook page last March in a petition to end the lock-out that the National Football League had last March. And it turned out quite successful, with 45,000 fans participating in the appeal and with the NFL season being able to officially start last September 8.
The NFL lockout started last March 11 because of a labor dispute between players and league owners, involving its star players Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. The league locked its players out of the game when labor negotiations failed and the players’ union, the National Football League Players Association, was officially decertified.
The lockout threatened to cancel (or postpone) the whole season, but after a series of negotiations between the two parties, and because of the efforts of certain groups, like Buffalo Wild Wings, who lobbied the NFL and NFL Players Association to put an end to the lockout, the whole season was able to officially start.
Buffalo wings’ petition, entitled “Save Our Season,” promised to hand out coupons for free chicken wings to every person who signs their Facebook appeal. “Our fans kept telling us how much they looked forward to the football season, and we wanted to let them know that we are glad not only to act as their voice, but also to rejoice with them the return of football and to celebrate their enthusiasm for the game,” said Kathy Benning, vice president of Buffalo Wild Wings.
And true enough, the Minneapolis-based restaurant chain honored its pledge and their chefs in functional chef hats prepare and give away 6 wings at each game day this September to fans who signed the petition. Eligible fans get to download a free coupon from Buffalo Wing’s Facebook page.
“Now, our very own restaurant teams are all set to deliver wonderful game-day experiences to our football-loving customers, serving them more than 270,000 free wings,” said Benning. “We’re concluding the season of fantasy draft day parties at our restaurants, and with the college and pro football rivalries starting this week, we’re just very much thrilled to be the place where customers watch the action.”
Stephen Anderson of trading firm Miller Tabak & Co. then gave an estimate that Buffalo Wild Wings draws around 10% of its revenue from NFL games, and a cancelled season would definitely impact their overall sales.
The chain realized this, too–football games are very important sales drivers for their brand, and they went out of their way to help fix the issue. As Benning emphasized, “our team – management, service crew and chefs in their neat chef hats—breathe and live sports, just like our customers,” and it’s a good thing they are in touch with their fans through their Facebook page. The page has more than five million fans to date, most of them quite participative in any form of engagement that the brand puts on their status updates and posts. Their Facebook status last September 9 said, “Packers vs. Saints tonight. Who’s going to win?” The status had 1,468 likes, and 3,266 comments – not really bad for fan engagement and participation.