Bojangles Inc. has become one of the first large quick-service brands to sign college athlete sponsorship deals since the NCAA offered an interim suspension of its rules this month.
Charlotte, N.C.-based Bojangles agreed to deals with quarterbacks DJ Uiagalelei of Clemson University and Sam Howell of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill under the interim NCCA name, image and likeness, or NIL, policy.
Under the new rules, effective July 1, the NCAA adopted a uniform interim policy that allows incoming and current student athletes in all sports to benefit from their name, image and likeness.
“College football is a huge passion point for Bojangles and our fans, so we are excited to be able to work with the athletes that make this sport so great,” said Jackie Woodward, Bojangles’ chief brand and marketing officer, in a statement. “These local stars have enjoyed our delicious food to fuel their athletic careers, and we’re thrilled to officially be part of their journey.”
Bojangles is one of the first major quick-service brands to sign endorsement deals with college athletes. Woodward said the company is looking to add more college athletes to “Team Bojangles.”
“Sam is a known chicken connoisseur and a powerhouse athlete whose love for the game and serving the community line up well with who we are as a brand, and we’re thrilled to have him on Team Bojangles,” Woodward said. “And DJ is a rising star at one of college football’s most competitive and highly visible programs, so we’re excited to have him on our roster at the same time.”
Both athletes will make appearances on behalf of Bojangles and share content on their personal social-media accounts, Bojangles said.
Bojangles already has established deals with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Southeastern Conference and several Historically Black Colleges and Universities. In addition, Bojangles has relationships with Dale Earnhardt Jr., PGA golfer Chesson Hadley, Bassmaster fisherman Guy Eaker and outdoorsman Brad Staley.
Each football season, Bojangles partners with more than a dozen universities to offer Big Bo Boxes, which are family-sized meals that are touted for their tailgating potential.
Independent restaurants have tapped college athletes for sponsorship deals as well. For example, Wright’s Barbecue in Fayetteville, Ark., has promoted its partnerships with University of Arkansas Razorbacks players and other athletes.
As for the Bojangles deal, Howell, left, said it fit with his recently announced partnership with TABLE, a non-profit organization that provides hunger relief and nutrition education to children in Orange County, N.C.
“Being able to combine my love for chicken with my personal commitment to support great causes in my community like TABLE is a perfect partnership,” said Howell, who will be a third-year Tar Heel starter.
Uiagalelei, a sophomore at Clemson, said: “Coming from California, I’ve learned that this area is serious about three things — faith, college football and their Bojangles. I’m excited to be working with a brand that has become my go-to since coming down here.”
Bojangles, founded in 1977, has about 750 restaurants in 14 states. The company was taken private in January 2019 when it was acquired by Durational Capital Management LP and The Jordan Co. LP.
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