Zaxby’s marketing this fall is where the rubber meets the road.
With the debut of a new food truck and an ongoing partnership with International Management Group’s college division, Zaxby’s has gained access to 27 colleges and amped up its “Zaxby’s Fanz of Flavor” tailgate tour in its second year.
The Athens, Ga.-based chicken brand will be hosting large-scale tailgate gatherings in six college communities this fall during highly anticipated rival-school football matchups, according to Erin Todd, Zaxby’s senior brand manager.
“We were really looking at ways to take our flavors on the road and engage with our guests outside the four walls of our restaurants,” said Todd in an interview. “Zaxby’s started in a college town, and we’ve always had a great relationship with college football.”
The tour had been set to start on Saturday with the Miami Hurricanes and Florida State Seminoles game in Tallahassee, Fla., but that matchup has been postposed until Oct. 7 because of the region’s recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Irma. A Zaxby’s spokeswoman said the tailgate tour would accommodate the postponement.
Other “Zaxby’s Fanz of Flavor” tailgate tour stops include: Sept. 30 for Clemson at Virginia Tech; Oct. 21 for Oklahoma State at Texas; Nov. 4 for Louisiana State at Alabama; Nov. 18 for LSU at Tennessee; and Nov. 25 for Clemson at South Carolina.
The Zaxby’s brand has deep roots in college sports. Founders Zach McLeroy and Tony Townley launched Zaxby’s in 1990 near a college campus in Statesboro, Ga.
“The majority of our guests are college football fans,” Todd said, so the brand was able to leverage its partnership with the International Management Group’s college division to schedule the game-day locations.
“We can be onsite and be part of the experience,” she said, adding that the company expects to give out thousands of chicken fingers samples and sauces at each event.
The addition of a new food truck this year has expanded the football tailgate tour, Todd said. “We feel like it allows fans to have a fresh-cooked chicken fingers, which adds a lot to the experience on game day,” she said.
The food truck will serve as the centerpiece of an area that includes grandstand-style seating, customer games, giveaways and televisions with satellite feeds to air other college football games, she said.
Zaxby’s is enhancing the tour by inviting social-media influencers, especially those on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, to share the experience on their own feeds with the hashtag #FanzofFlavor.
The six stops will embrace one to two of the social-media influencers at each location. “We hope their interaction on site will capture the fans attention,” Todd said. “We want that content to live on past the tailgate event. We can capture that and push it out beyond that actual event.”
At each of the 2017 tailgate tour stops, Todd said notable former athletes will participate in autograph signings and photos.
The college football tailgate tour follows a summer of special campaigns aimed at the chicken-finger portability of Zaxby’s menu, Todd said.
“We made it our mission to bring fresh campaigns and promotions to our guests in the second half of 2017,” said McLeroy, Zaxby’s CEO, in a statement. “Our team at Zaxby’s is very aware that our fans drive our business and are the reason for our success.”
Zaxby’s has more than 800 locations in 17 states.
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