Image source: BizJournals

Zaxby’s Restaurants announced a program Wednesday, May 08 declaring itself as “The Official Chicken of College Sports” in a deal brokered by IMG College.  The program includes partnerships with 25 collegiate properties across the chains 13 state footprint.

The program includes radio, online and in-venue inventory at each of the partnering schools for football and basketball games.  Included will be the “Zaxby’s Sack Cam” and the “Zaxby’s Dunk Cam.”

As an adamant proponent of sponsorship marketing I applaud the effort, no doubt it required a significant financial and time investment to develop a program of this nature.  The strategy is fantastic, rather conference level deals that provide little access beyond championship events Zaxby’s focused on the individual collegiate properties where they can access each schools fan base.

One could venture a guess that this program is in response to the deep ties that Chic-fil-A has made into collegiate sports in the Southeast with its ties to a bowl game in Atlanta as well as significant investments with ESPN’s college sports coverage.

Not to nit-pick, because programs like this deserve a good share of positive coverage, but it is unclear what – if any – activation programs that will come from the partnership.  Beyond the branding elements, what promotions or programs will be announced to drive people to purchase chicken?  Will there be contests pushing people to retail or web?  Where is the social media component – will they create rivalry elements encouraging fan participation?  These could be in the works and unknown to us at this point.

As someone who preaches value on a daily basis, to optimize a partnership of this nature activation development is paramount.  Branding value looks and feels good, and has its place, but it cannot live alone.  Now, more than ever, revenue and immediate response is king.

True judgment of this partnership will be withheld until these details become known.