Why Wendy’s is leaning into Twitch during March Madness

March Madness
Source: Getty Images.

The platform offers extended reach and interactive opportunities for advertisers trying to reach younger, cord-cutting audiences.

Where can brands reach a captive, younger, cord-cutting audience around the NCAA Championship Tournament?

Twitch is one option. The streaming platform for gamers, owned by Amazon, is tapping into the March Madness buzz by offering sponsorships against original content on /TwitchSports, the platform’s owned and operated channel for sports fans.

Two original shows created around the NCAA Tournament include Let’s Go! College Hoops and SuperFan FaceOff. Both feature a rotating cast of guests, including top streamers, sports analysts and athletes, and are meant to give fans an interactive experience around the games. Twitch users can interact with fans and guests using the chat feature.

Wendy’s is one advertiser buying into the offering. The QSR brand is an associate sponsor of SuperFan FaceOff, which offers a “red-zone style watchalong for each game,” according to a release. As part of the sponsorship, Wendy’s will get a custom segment within the show where fans shout out their favorite menu items.

“We are always looking for unique, different and special ways to reach our fans, and we’ve worked hard to build a strong presence on Twitch to authentically connect with Gen Z and Millennials,” Jimmy Bennett, VP of media and social at Wendy’s, said in a statement provided to Campaign US. “We’ve smashed freezers in Fortnite, enjoyed customized gamer menus from Uber Eats, and now it's time to watch the madness unfold on the court.”

In addition to Wendy’s, Philips Norelco, a first time Twitch advertiser, is also sponsoring SuperFan Faceoff, with a campaign that taps into the Twitch chat integration. Sponsorships include category exclusivity, custom integrations with Twitch’s chat function, and branding on the /TwitchSports channel page as well as within the stream.

For Wendy’s, the Twitch campaign is part of a broader marketing push around March Madness that includes “insane deals,” a “Morty’s Mayhem” pop-up in Los Angeles and a partnership with former pro basketballer Reggie Miller, Bennett added.

It was natural to extend the madness to an established, and relevant, service such as Twitch,” he said. “We're excited to combine sports with gaming – two passion points of our fans.”

Brands see Twitch as an opportunity to reach a broad millennial and Gen Z audience as the platform expands beyond gaming content. According to Twitch, non-gaming content increased 63% year over year in 2021. Sports in particular exploded, with the number of sports-related streaming hours growing 409%.

According to Twitch, the platform can give advertisers as much as a 9x increase in reach to viewers ages 18 to 34 when using it as a complement to existing cable sponsorships.

Sarah Iooss, head of sales for the Americas at Twitch, said in a statement: “We’re helping brands expand their traditional sports sponsorships and not only through unparalleled incremental reach, but also through direct real-time interaction with millennial and Gen Z sports fans.”

For Wendy's, which has had success with campaigns in the gaming space, Twitch provides “unique, and authentic opportunities to connect with our fans on an individual basis,” Bennett said.

“We've always played the game differently and taken an unconventional approach to marketing to meet our fans where they are, and our unique presence on Twitch is an example of that,” he said. “We love what our fans love, and gaming is a key passion point for our audience.”

He added using social media during big, live sporting events and other moments is “a necessary component to deliver on expectations to always show up and stay relevant for our fans.”

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