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As with the Winter Olympics, Fadó does not “go after it guns blazing” when it comes to marketing for March Madness, mainly because it conflicts with St. Patrick’s Day, Peterson said. But this summer’s World Cup, which takes place in Brazil, will be a different story.

“There’s not a lot of conflict in June and July, so the World Cup truly means incremental traffic,” he said. “The times are great for us this year, fundamentally all during the day. The only thing we’d wish differently would be for a better draw for the U.S.”

Similarly, 1,000-unit Buffalo Wild Wings is gearing up for the NCAA basketball tournament.

During Buffalo Wild Wings’ fourth-quarter earnings call, chief financial officer Mary Twinem said the Winter Games would produce a positive effect on the Minneapolis-based chain’s first-quarter sales, but downplayed that impact compared with other crucial sporting events like the NCAA basketball tournament.

“In some markets [the Olympics are] a bigger deal than another market … and there weren’t any Olympics last year, so there should be some incremental benefit from that,” Twinem said.

Also of great importance this year is the fact that Easter will shift to the second quarter of 2014, compared with the first quarter of last year, when the holiday fell on the second weekend of March Madness, when the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments get winnowed down to the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight rounds.

“Getting Easter out of the tournament is always beneficial for us,” Twinem said. “More people can get away and come in and watch the games, versus last year when it was in the Sweet 16 rounds and not everybody could get away from family.”

Hooters did not experience a negative effect from last year’s Easter calendar shift, so the chain will build upon its crucial March Madness programming with incremental promotions with ESPN during the tournament, Pudduck said. The chain will sponsor ESPN’s desktop and mobile websites, where fans fill out their tournament brackets, reprise their relationship with announcer Dick Vitale and bring ESPN personality Jay Williams into the fold as well.

The chain also will give away a VIP trip to Dallas for this year’s Final Four.

“The Winter Olympics are a nice plus and good to have,” Pudduck said, “but March Madness is where you really show people what you have.”

Contact Mark Brandau at mark.brandau@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_from_NRN