What is in this article?:
- Restaurant March Madness promotions go beyond basketball
- Momentum for the Madness
St. Patrick’s Day is beneficially situated on Monday, before Tuesday’s first-round NCAA tournament games are televised.
Tilted Kill anticiaptes a big St. Patrick’s Day owing to the holiday’s placement on Monday
The phrase “March Madness” typically evokes the traffic-driving benefits of the NCAA basketball tournament for most restaurants, but this year the month is aligning several calendar shifts that have many brands — not just the usual players — anticipating a continuous benefit from college basketball and St. Patrick’s Day.
Unlike last year, when Easter fell during the second weekend of the NCAA tournament and stole traffic from “Sweet 16” and “Elite 8” round games, March Madness does not have any other major event overlapping with its game days. Namely, St. Patrick’s Day is beneficially situated on Monday, after the tournament’s field of 68 teams is seeded but before Tuesday’s first-round games are televised.
Even a concept like fast-casual pizza chain Your Pie, which is neither an Irish pub nor a sports bar, is looking forward to the collective momentum of St. Patrick’s Day and March Madness, both which follow its biggest promotion of the year this Friday, “Pie Day” — when the date 3/14 is a play on the mathematical constant pi, or 3.14.
Drew French, founder of Athens, Ga.-based Your Pie, is looking forward to going straight from the daylong giveaways of Pie Day into the NCAA tournament’s Selection Sunday event this weekend, and on to St. Patrick’s Day, all while the weather starts to warm up.
“It’s a perfect storm for us, and I’m sure other restaurants feel that too,” French said. “People are getting their tax returns back, they’re tired of being inside, and it’s all culminating with St. Patrick’s Day and March Madness. … We’re hopefully converting first-time customers into loyal customers, and that’s why we’re putting all our marketing pieces in place.”
For some brands, St. Patrick’s Day is the optimal marketing event of the year, regardless of when it falls.
Bennigan’s, which carries the slogan “Where every day is St. Paddy’s Day,” got started even earlier to capitalize on the holiday’s appeal, running its “Get Lucky with Bennigan’s” promotion since March 4. The Dallas-based casual-dining brand is offering a trip to Europe as the grand prize, as well as free food and drinks, to guests who dine in at Bennigan’s to receive a scratch-off card or who download the brand’s “Get Lucky” mobile app.
Another pub-themed chain, Tilted Kilt, anticipates a big St. Patrick’s Day owing to the holiday’s placement on Monday, where it will not steal any traffic associated with weekend business or college basketball.
“Weekdays for St. Patrick’s Day are ideal, because people want to cut out of work for lunch or stay late,” said Kristin Cronhardt, vice president of marketing for Tilted Kilt. “We’re going to have a good weekend, then St. Patrick’s Day leading right into March Madness. We’re starting a new ‘Hoppy Hour’ menu on Tuesday the 18th, throwing something right in the middle of the week to capitalize on the crazy busyness of St. Patrick’s Day weekend.”
Even when St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Sunday last year, traffic on that Sunday increased nearly 13 percent systemwide for Buffalo Wings & Rings, director of marketing Charlie Francus said. This year, the Cincinnati-based casual-dining brand is anticipating an even better sales day with the holiday’s placement on the calendar, he added.