Exclusive: Inspire Brands Joins ESPN’s College GameDay in 3-Year Sponsorship Deal

It’s nearly kickoff time for college football, and several new brands are getting in on the game.

Inspire Brands, the home of Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Dunkin, Jimmy John’s, Sonic and Baskin-Robbins, has announced that it’s signed a three-year sponsorship deal with ESPN’s College GameDay, a partnership Disney Advertising described as “different and exciting.”

“The excitement was there from the beginning,” Theresa Palmieri, vp of Disney Advertising Sports Brands Solution, told Adweek, noting that the two companies began sports marketing conversations in April for a Labor Day launch.

“They saw value at the beginning and had a clear direction from a brand standpoint in terms of what they wanted to accomplish,” Palmieri said.

As GameDay enters its 30th year, Buffalo Wild Wings, Arby’s and Dunkin will now be integrated into the show, starting with Week 1 of the season, which airs live from Charlotte, N.C., for the South Carolina/North Carolina match-up on ABC on Sept. 2.

“It was really across multiple categories and multiple brands,” Palmieri said. “That is a little bit of a diversion from how we really create deals around College GameDay, but it was exciting.”

While Disney Advertising is still in the process of “finalizing some details,” Buffalo Wild Wings, Dunkin and Arby’s will all have a presence in the linear broadcast Saturday mornings as part of a food-themed feature segment, Weekend Menu.

Dunkin will also be activating on-site each week to engage with fans, and the brands will collaborate with Disney’s CreativeWorks to develop custom creative integrated with College GameDay. Those assets will live across linear, addressable and on-site.

Familiar faces

As GameDay comes off a 2022 season that was the most-watched ever for the show, 11 brands will activate across the ESPN property.

“College GameDay is a whole vehicle unto itself. It’s a very big production. It’s meant to celebrate college football and have fun, and what’s really important to us is to make sure we’re bringing fans along for that ride,” Palmieri said. “A lot of what we do and the engagement with our fans is actually coming through our partnerships with brands.”

Among the brands activating, The Home Depot is back for its 21st year in partnership with GameDay and is starting the first year of a new multiyear deal. Meanwhile, DoorDash is back for its second year with Dashboard, where analysts and on-air personalities will break down plays ahead of the game.

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