TNL eSports Brand Tracker 038: Buffalo Wild Wings and E LEAGUE

TNL ESPORTS BRAND TRACKER 038: Buffalo Wild Wings

Wings and Chill at Buffalo Wild Wings (Photo: Buffalo Wild Wings)

TNL Take:  This time a different take: a Brand overview after they’ve invested in eSports.

For those not following eSports closely, there’s been some chatter on Reddit about fans having bad experiences at Buffalo Wild Wings locations trying to watch E LEAGUE there as BWW is one of the main Brand sponsors.

Vice did a fantastic overview of it and I want to take it further.

I haven’t spoken with anyone at Buffalo Wild Wings or those involved with the deal. From someone who carefully watches the Brand activations in the space, it’s very surprising.

Bdubs, as the kids call it, gave its stamp of approval on the largest eSports stage in the US to date. The fans — never forget the fans — that have built this industry over many, many years celebrated the partnership.

Read any of the positive comments about those that watched Week 1 in bars and it’s summed up like this

 

“Wow. I can’t believe I’m watching Counter-Strike next to other Sports in a bar. I’m going to cry”.

 

See that emotion? 

Even though communication about the sponsorship was made it seemed to have gotten lost in the mix — Vice’s unofficial survey of 12 stores in Arizona produced only 1 location that was aware of E LEAGUE.

I think the complaints are valid and I did some digging myself and found this:

Buffalo Wild Wing's Euro 2016 Promotion (Photo: Buffalo Wild Wings)

That’s the first thing you see when you go to their website — a huge promotion around Euro 2016. We can discuss/argue the average American’s view of European soccer but let’s use data over emotions.

E LEAGUE vs. EURO 2016 TV Ratings (Photo: The Next Level)

In an awesome coincidence, the first Game of Euro 2016 was on the same day as E LEAGUE's Week 3. Yes the Euro did perform better but it was on in the afternoon and not running till 2am and against the NBA Finals like E LEAGUE did.

That’s pretty impressive.

OK fine it’s not on the Home Page but surely under the Sports tab?

Buffalo Wild Wings Website (Photo: Buffalo Wild Wings)

Not there either.

In fact, I couldn’t find a mention of E LEAGUE anywhere on the website. So I Google’d “Buffalo Wild Wings E LEAGUE”.

 Buffalo Wild Wings and E LEAGUE Google Results (Photo: Google)

Buffalo Wild Wings and E LEAGUE Google Results (Photo: Google)

The power of Reddit and bad press.

This is a huge missed opportunity for the audience that lives their lives digitally.

BWW spent $44M in 2009 and $60M in 2011 in Measured Media. Assuming a similar growth rate, I’m estimating their current budget at ~$100M. 

So spending $2M for E LEAGUE is relatively small.

I still believe in the power of this promotion and Buffalo Wild Wings will hopefully turn it around. It’s not even halfway through E LEAGUE and plenty of time to make this right.

Let’s try a social experiment:

If you want to support BWW and E LEAGUE but feel some changes are needed, let them know on Twitter here → @BWWings


Updated June 30 2016

Two weeks ago, I wrote about Buffalo Wild Wing’s sponsorship of E LEAGUE.

Buffalo Wild Wings had never spent in the Gaming space before — let alone eSports — and this was a pretty big first step. Even the fans were excited to hear that not only was one of their favorite brands sponsoring eSports but they could actually see their favorite teams play on TV next to traditional sports — at a Buffalo Wild Wings.

While all of that sounded great, the execution unfortunately wasn’t there. Outside of the challenges with communication, the biggest issue for me was the deafening silence of the promotion in general. 

It just felt like a really big missed opportunity on the part of Buffalo Wild Wings to plant a stake in eSports. Then a few days ago I saw this on Reddit:

Buffalo Wild Wings E LEAGUE Promotion (Photo: Reddit)

Ok pretty cool. Great branding, fits both E LEAGUE and BWW as a destination and info for the fans. 

I then checked the website under their Sports listings again.

Buffalo Wild Wings E LEAGUE Website Promotion (Photo: Buffalo Wild Wings)

Wow!

If you look closely this part is key:

 

“Stop in and ask your server to turn on the Finals”

 

Not only did they address the overall promotion, and broadcast the schedule for fans — they basically said “Please tell us to put E LEAGUE on”. 

Just. Like. Every. Other. Sport.

Buffalo Wild Wings. Here’s to you for listening to your audience #BWWListened

Thanks Buffalo Wild Wings! (GIF: Giphy)