As Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal duked it out in Madison Square Garden, Buffalo Wild Wings across the country served up a special sauce.
Because the November 2 UFC 244 was for a specially-created “BMF Belt,” or “Baddest Mother F***er,” rather than an official UFC title belt, Buffalo Wild Wings activated around its partnership with the mixed martial arts organization with the BMF wing sauce. The sauce was available only for dine-in customers on the day and night of the fight.
Buffalo Wild Wings targeted UFC 244 as a special product event because many had tabbed it as the biggest fight of the year and the company believes they’re the top fight destination when it comes to fans going out to watch UFC events
“We show more UFC fights than any other bar or restaurant in America, so if an establishment is going to create a unique sauce for a specific fight, it’s going to be Buffalo Wild Wings,” said Luke DeRouen, Buffalo Wild Wings vice president of brand experience and activation. “As for this fight, it’s to crown the baddest man on the planet, so we had to concoct a sauce worthy of that matchup.”
As with many of Buffalo Wild Wings’ limited-edition sauces, the BMF wing sauce packed a punch, made with mango, habanero and ghost peppers. The sauced wings were then topped with the Desert Heat seasoning, a sweet and smoky pepper flavor.
While the idea of developing a new sauce for one day for 1,200 locations might sound like a heavy lift, it’s because it is, DeRouen said. For that reason, the chain normally doesn’t start from scratch for those events. Instead, the company’s kitchens are resourceful with its pantry when developing products for cultural moments. According to the brand, BMF wing sauce is a mixture of the brand’s hottest sauce and hottest rub.
“We’ve found that using combinations of existing sauces and dry rubs to create new ones is the most efficient way to offer a unique experience for a single day,” DeRouen said. “Our culinary team has done an amazing job taking inspiration from pop culture and sports moment stop create unique sauces that compliment the experience.”
The development of the BMF sauce is an attempt to recreate demand from another sauce, one made for a TV show, rather than a sports moment. Earlier this year, Buffalo Wild Wings released Dragon Fire, intended as a one-day promotion to coincide with the premiere of the final season of the HBO show Game of Thrones. The sauce was so successful that day, the Dragon Fire remained available every Sunday through the show’s finale.
A key difference, between Dragon Fire and BMF Sauce was the GoT sauce was available through DoorDash delivery because it was believed so many fans would host watch parties for the HBO series.
For UFC, however, it was in-store only to help drive traffic in-store for the fight.
Additionally, a key aspect in the promotion is the intersection of three factors, all of which center on a key target demographic of Buffalo Wild Wings: males aged 18-35. That demographic is also a key sports demographic and a 2018 Nielsen survey found 40% of MMA fans are males in the age range.
According to a study from RetailMeNot, that same age group is most likely to take advantage of promotions, like the special sauce, which helps build brand loyalty.
By leveraging moments and other brands to connect on an emotional level to consumers, Buffalo Wilds Wings hopes to attract and retain fans – especially to watch those moments. It’s also not a shotgun approach.
“We only activate on moments [and] events if they are on brand and if we feel we can authentically add to the viewing experience,” DeRouen said. “Buffalo Wild Wings is an experience brand, and our food is a key element of the experience we offer. We find that campaigns that hit on all elements of the experience, awesome food, and beer, sports on TV and unique offerings like free to play gaming with BetMGM, deliver the best results.”