Marketing

Brinker's It's Just Wings is getting a push from 125 college football stars

The athletes will serve as brand "ambassadors" on college campuses throughout the nation. Through a collaboration with a new app called Yolk, they'll also play games with It's Just Wings customers.
Photograph courtesy of It's Just Wings

The parent company of Chili’s and Maggiano’s has tapped 125 college football stars to serve as promotional agents on their home campuses for the company’s virtual It’s Just Wings concept.

The athletes will be outfitted in It’s Just Wings-branded garb and dispatched to talk up the brand and extend special deals to fellow students, according to the announcement from Brinker International, which launched the wings concept in June 2020.

The restaurant company indicated that it intends to continue using on-campus “ambassadors” going forward.

Not all of the interactions between the ambassadors and schoolmates will be face-to-face. Through an arrangement with Yolk, an app that enables users to play video games with big-name athletes, the gridiron stars will play online with new and prospective It’s Just Wings fans. Part of the plan is to hold two gaming “events” on Yoke as part of the collaboration.

“This partnership is designed to directly and strategically reach one of our target demographics at the intersection of wings, gaming and sports,” Wade Allen, Brinker’s SVP of innovation, said in a statement.

Brinker said that the inaugural roster of ambassadors includes representatives from 34 of college football’s best-known teams. The participating players include Tate Martell, the starting quarterback for the University of Nevada at Las Vegas; Kyren Williams, a running back for Notre Dame; and Emory Jones, the starting quarterback for the University of Florida.

During the first year of It’s Just Wings’ operation, the virtual brand generated $170 million in sales, according to Brinker CEO Wyman Roberts. Its wings are available for takeout or delivery from 1,050 units of Chili’s and Maggiano’s.

Brinker recently announced that it’s launching a second virtual concept, Maggiano’s Italian Classics, and expects to roll out the venture during the remainder of 2021.   

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