A Billion Dollar Fantasy

Applebees Fantasy FootballAre you ready for some football?” Well, that question has now been answered by the NFL and their players, resolving their issues and ending the recent lockout. Colleges are also getting their players ready for another drive for the BCS Championship Game. And consumers? They are REALLY ready for the 2012 football season!

Evidence Fantasy Sports – where people compete against others ‘virtually’ after drafting a team of real players and competing based on their statistics in real games played. It has become a booming billion dollar industry. Over 30MM consumers play, up 60% in the last 4 years, of which 75% are involved in football. This could be a marketers’ dream demo –young, educated, with money to spend  – and one that scores of companies attempt to leverage, from Toyota to Subway to Yahoo.

There’s not much new in how these companies activate – ticket giveaways, web site advertising, sponsorships – but I just heard about one that’s right through the uprights.

Applebee’s restaurants in NY and CT are offering groups who have their player draft session in their restaurants, $100 in free food.  Nice incentive. And since most leagues have 10+ “owners”, that guarantees a hungry, thirsty group that will be spending a few hours, and hopefully plenty more cash, while they’re having fun selecting their team. They’ve even involved Miller Beer as a co-sponsor.

Nice job Applebee’s – sounds like a win in the battle for consumers’ casual restaurant dollars – though I’m surprised it’s so minimally communicated on individual stores’ Facebook pages (only a static page with “Call your store for more information”). Seems like with some more support, Applebee’s could take it all the way to the end zone!

(OK, I am a big Fantasy Football Fan, so please give me license for my lingo. It’s my season!)

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