How Restaurant Brands Can Team Up With Athletes

American sports fans are passionate about their teams. Because of this strong alliance between athletes and their admirers, restaurants have a great opportunity to partner with teams and leagues to create positive brand images that ultimately increase customer sales.

Several restaurant chains have already taken advantage of the benefits that come with team association. These partnerships have made a difference in restaurant brand exposure within their communities on both a national and local level, enabling increased awareness among sports fans.

Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits

Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ’n Biscuits has aligned itself with the National Football League’s Carolina Panthers, generating a successful partnership. Additionally, the restaurant secured the naming rights to NASCAR’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 race, ensuring that fans connect them with this team.

By making these types of marketing decisions, the restaurant brand has widened its customer base. In addition, the restaurant created points of distribution at both the Panthers’ stadium and the Darlington International Raceway, which is yet another way to attain the support of sports fans.

Domino’s Pizza

Ann Arbor-based Domino’s Pizza put together a creative marketing campaign that involves Major League Baseball. Their latest promotion is called the no-hitter. During the 2013 baseball season, every time a Major League pitcher throws a no-hitter, Domino’s will give a free two-topping, medium Handmade Pan Pizza to the first 10,000 subscribers of who visit the restaurant’s special microsite. The “DomiNoNo” giveaway will begin after the first two no-hitters of this season and end next year.

With more than 5,000 locations throughout the country, Domino’s will use this promotion in all of their restaurants while also engaging fans and patrons with social media. This tactic is designed to reach more fans and get them involved in the promotion as well.

Dairy Queen

In April, Dairy Queen joined forces with Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco for a public relations and cause-marketing success story. The idea was to promote Minneapolis-based Dairy Queen’s new $5 Buck Lunch with the help of a famous number 5 as a pitchman. Adding to the excitement was the fact that Flacco proceeded to win the Super Bowl MVP.

Flacco actually worked the pick-up window to hand out orders to thrilled drive-thru customers. ESPN, the NFL Network and CBS all ran the story, which gave Dairy Queen a lot of positive feedback from viewers.


Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald’s has continued to be an official sponsor of the Olympics since the 1968 Winter Games. The brand’s most recent promotion was unveiled at the Olympics in London over last summer. Called “Champions of Play,” this campaign centered on child-wellness and featured athletes like swimmer Dara Torres and gymnast Shawn Johnson as its ambassadors.

By creating a promotion of this kind, McDonald’s incorporated accomplished athletes to spread a positive message about health for future generations, giving the brand an uplifting image.

 Look For Sports Opportunities Near You

While these examples of restaurants and sports affiliations are from national brands, you can find local athletes and teams to enhance your visibility among fans in your market, too. The excitement and enthusiasm that comes with sports are the perfect ingredients for building strong loyalty and continued interest among area consumers.

Whether you build an advertising campaign around a recognizable sports figure or you sponsor a regional team, you’re sure to attract followers and fans alike to your restaurant. Furthermore, this avenue could provide revenue growth in ways you may never have expected.

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