This week, the tipoff of March Madness comes on the heels of St. Patrick’s Day. It’s a perfect storm—in a good way—for businesses like Hooters, Domino’s, and Buffalo Wild Wings.
The Super Bowl of all pizza delivery days is well, the Super Bowl. Domino’s says that its busiest day of the year is indeed the Super Bowl, when the chain sells some 11 million total slices, a sum that’s roughly 80% higher than a typical Sunday.
But when it comes to a longer stretch of time in which the pizza business booms day after day, it’s hard to compete with the current week—which kicked off with St. Patrick’s Day and continues on with the start of the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament. Both of these events, it goes without saying, go hand in hand with alcohol and hot greasy food, so it’s natural for businesses focused on the selling of these goods to go all out to boost sales.
According to Kantar Media, March Madness pulls in more national TV ad revenues ($1.15 billion in 2013) than any other post-season sports franchise. That includes the NBA, MLB, and NHL post-season, as well as the much-watched NFL playoffs which, admittedly, feature many fewer games than the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. “March Madness is a marquee sports franchise and it’s an attractive opportunity for marketers to connect with consumers over a three week period,” Kantar Media chief research officer Jon Swallen said via press release.
It’s no surprise, then, that Pizza Hut chose this week to announce that its sister brand, WingStreet, has officially been launched nationally and now has a presence in 5,000 locations around the country. They also threw in a deal to try to tempt both St. Patrick’s Day revelers and March Madness viewers into ordering some wings. Starting on Monday, a promotion launched offering eight wings for $5. And if any of the 12 teams in the tournament with “Wings” in their name or a winged mascot winds up winning the NCAA championship, everybody gets a free four-piece order of wings for takeout on April 10.
Meanwhile, Pizza Hut’s biggest competitor, Domino’s, just launched at 50% off regular prices deal on all pizzas ordered online. Timed to coincide with the bulk of March Madness, the offer is good through March 24. (Just enter the code “50off” at checkout.)
Yet another pizza chain, Little Caesars, is repeating a big bet it made last year that no #16 seed would beat a #1 seed in the tournament. It’s never happened, but if such a monumental upset somehow did take place this year, Little Caesars would give away one Hot-N-Ready lunch combo for free to each customer from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 7. What Little Caesars really hopes, of course, is that the existence of this (highly unlikely) giveaway generates attention for its lunch combo, which includes a 20 oz. soda and four “Detroit-style DEEP!DEEP! Dish pizza slices” for $5.
Back in the world of wings—more specifically, wings, beer, sports on TV, and waitresses in skimpy tight orange uniforms—Hooters is encouraging fans to play hooky and watch the NCAA tournament while taking advantage of specials like free fried pickle appetizers and buy ten wings, get ten wings free.