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Domino’s ready to play ball

Pizza chain inks NCAA sponsorship deal as March Madness heats up

Domino’s Pizza said Wednesday it has signed a multiyear deal to be the official pizza of the NCAA, just in time for March Madness, the annual college basketball tournament that is a sales and marketing boon for many restaurant.

The NCAA partnership is Domino’s first national-sports sponsorship since 2007, when it was the official pizza of NASCAR. The deal also marks the pizza company’s first national college sports sponsorship, which comes at a time when two major professional leagues, the National Football League and the National Basketball Association, potentially are headed for lockouts and shortened or canceled seasons.

“We are very proud to be the ‘Official Pizza of the NCAA’ and look forward to a terrific opportunity to connect our brand with national and local platforms showcasing our country’s finest student athletes,” said chief marketing officer Russell Weiner. “Hard work, commitment to winning and an emphasis on team achievement are all attributes Domino’s and the NCAA have in common, and we are excited to bring these traits to life through this partnership.”

Domino’s also will be the official sponsor of the Frozen Four college hockey championship and College World Series in collegiate baseball and softball, in addition to March Madness, which tips off March 15.

Other restaurant chains are joining in on the fun of college basketball’s postseason. The Colony, Texas-based Pizza Inn is running its first “Pick ’Em” challenge, in which the person with the most correct picks in his or her tournament bracket wins free pizza for a year. Second- through fifth-place finishers will receive $100 Pizza Inn gift cards. Guests of the 315-unit chain have until noon on March 17 to enter.

Minneapolis-based Buffalo Wild Wings will do a similar “BWW Bracket Challenge” and offer an Apple iPad as first prize.

Other restaurant chains have long maintained a presence in college sports through sponsorship of bowl games for football, including Outback Steakhouse, Chick-fil-A and Beef ‘O’ Brady’s. This year, Papa John’s decided to end its title sponsorship of the PapaJohns.com Bowl, which was taken over by regional bank BBVA, in favor of its official sponsorship of the NFL and the Super Bowl. Papa John’s also was last year’s pizza sponsor of March Madness.

Domino’s Pizza operates or franchises 9,351 restaurants worldwide.

Contact Mark Brandau at [email protected].com.


 

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