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This casual dining chain has signed a multi-year NFL partnership.

Applebee’s has signed a multi-year partnership with the NFL

Applebee’s will have a brand presence across the NFL calendar, beginning with the draft April 25-27.

Applebee’s announced today it has signed a multi-year partnership with the NFL to be the league’s “Official Grill + Bar.” As part of the agreement, Applebee’s will have a brand presence across the NFL calendar, beginning with the draft April 25-27. The company said its partnership will focus on value and will be enhanced with national broadcast television and online media investments. Terms of the partnership were not disclosed.

“Applebee’s fans are NFL fans, which is why we are excited to bring America’s Favorite Grill + Bar together with America’s number one sport in a way that will create a fun and engaging experience for all,” CMO Joel Yashinsky said in a statement “We have the best food and drinks to enjoy while watching games, whether dining at our restaurants or enjoying Applebee’s To Go at home. From America’s Favorite Boneless Wings, mozzarella sticks and more to a wide range of bar offerings, there’s no better place than Applebee’s to enjoy watching football. We can’t wait to provide great experiences and NFL opportunities to our fans.”

This isn’t Applebee’s first appearance in front of NFL fans; the company has sponsored Football Night in America for NBC's Sunday Night Football since 2019. That said, through this formal partnership with the NFL, Applebee’s will the guest and fan experience, the company said.

“The NFL is excited to welcome Applebee’s as our official Grill + Bar partner,” Tracie Rodburg, NFL senior vice president of sponsorship management, said in a statement. “Applebee’s shares the league’s commitment of providing best-in-class gameday experiences, and we’re thrilled to be able to bring our fans together with Applebee’s in the months and years ahead.”

The NFL has a long history of restaurant company sponsorships, particularly among pizza companies, though Applebee’s seems to be the first “Grill + Bar” sponsorship. Papa John’s was the league’s sponsor for eight years, but that agreement ended mutually shortly after former CEO John Schnatter tied NFL player protests to the company’s declining sales. Pizza Hut took over that space in 2018, claiming the partnership generated traffic, awareness and digital sales. In 2022, Little Caesars took over as the “official pizza sponsor of the NFL” for a multiyear partnership.

There is plenty of potential here for Applebee’s, as NFL fans seem to like chicken wings. According to the National Chicken Council's 2024 Wing Report, Americans consumed about 1.45 billion wings while watching the 2024 Super Bowl. Further, NFL regular-season games averaged 17.9 million viewers, tied for the second highest since averages were first tracked in 1995. The league’s playoffs averaged 38.5 million viewers last year, the most-watched playoffs ever.

To kickoff its partnership, Applebee’s is offering 20 free boneless wings with a $40 online purchase during the 2024 NFL Draft. From April 25 through April 27, guests can order To Go or delivery directly from or Applebee’s mobile app.

Contact Alicia Kelso at [email protected]

TAGS: Marketing
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