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🎉 2022 Shortlist

Tailgate Trivia: Jersey Mike’s Scores Big with NCAA Fan Engagement

Entrant: Genius Sports

  • Best Brand Experience or Activation



Sports sponsorships have long been a vehicle for brands to drive awareness and connect with new audiences at scale.

But partnering with a league or team no longer means a logo slapped on a jersey or stadium signage. Done properly, brought to life through relevant and timely content, sponsorships are a peerless opportunity to build long lasting brand equity.

U.S. sandwich chain Jersey Mike’s Subs is an official sponsor of over 40 NCAA schools in Power 5 conferences. Last year the company turned to Genius Sports to up its activation game ahead of the the 2021 college football season, aiming to turn its ties with teams into a digital monetization strategy.

It did so through the Tailgate Tour marketing campaign, tackling the challenge: How can we get season-long exposure to NCAA fans and make our brand feel part of the gameday experience in a memorable way?

How does this represent “Excellence in Engagement”?

Like many brands, Jersey Mike’s saw sport as an unrivaled way to scale. The Tailgate Tour was, at its heart, an experiential marketing ploy, with the company appearing at colleges around the country to hand out free subs throughout the NCAAF season. However translating this brand awareness into revenue-generating footfall across its thousands of stores was the missing piece in the puzzle.

By adding free-to-play and targeted fan marketing to its mix, it was able realize the full benefits of its sponsorship strategy. And by approaching fan engagement through multiple channels, it ensured the campaign had national appeal:

  • Bespoke Trivia games with unique social sharing features and a dynamic leaderboard to help spread the word
  • Leveraged exclusive audience network and sport-specific media buying services to reach and engage new fans and potential consumers
  • Served a series of dynamic creative ads targeting football fans, with paced spend in line with the NCAAF calendar

This campaign encapsulates 'Excellence in Engagement'. Jersey Mike's used Genius Sports to up its activation game ahead of the the 2021 college football season, successfully turning its ties with teams into a digital monetization strategy that will ensure long-term fan engagement with the brand this season and beyond.

Objective: Team Talk

Jersey Mike’s Subs, a leading American sandwich chain and official sponsor to over 40 NCAA schools, sought to drive brand awareness, increase downloads of its official app, and to boost sales across its thousands of stores.

Ready to launch its 'Tailgate Tour' marketing campaign, which saw the brand stop at 13 colleges across the U.S. giving away free subs, it required a digital strategy that would attract fans into its funnel and convert them into monetizable customers.

Jersey Mike's brief was simple.

  1. Create a new NCAA free-to-play game to maximize existing IP rights (over 40 sponsorships)
  2. Drive fans to download the official Jersey Mike's app and to become a 'MyMike's' member (official awards program)
  3. Promote the free-to-play game to fans at scale, with ad spend to buy media space, when and where fans are most engaged

Rich Hope, CMO, Jersey Mike’s Franchise System’s Inc. said: ‘Our goal is to deliver a fun, interactive game day experience and introduce fans to our mobile app.’

Robert Gottlieb, EVP, Marketing, FOX Sports said: ‘We are eager to elevate the college football fan experience in unique ways across this multi-city tour.’

Strategy & Execution: Team Tactics

Genius Sports, an official partner of NCAA, created Tailgate Trivia, a series of 49 college football quizzes that test fans’ knowledge on individual NCAA schools, with an additional five, team-specific questions to maximize appeal among each specific fan base. Available to play via the Jersey Mike’s app, the interactive game integrates the brand’s 'MyMike' loyalty scheme, rewarding fans with in-store offers and discounts the better they perform, alongside a chance to win x4 tickets to the NCAA Rose Bowl.

All aspects of this project were executed with the modern sports fan in mind. To promote sign-ups, Genius Sports ran a series of programmatic media campaigns, leveraging advertising technology that was developed specifically to activate sports fans, to target NCAA fans with personalized ads via our exclusive audience data network - a network built through Genius Sports' partnerships across sport, media and betting.

Tailgate Trivia includes unique social sharing features to drive fan interaction, while giving Jersey Mike’s valuable first-party audience data to use in future content and marketing campaigns.

Results: Final Result

This campaign exceeded the goals set out by Jersey Mike's in its initial brief.

  • Over 185,000 users engaged and played Tailgate Trivia, scaling Jersey Mike's addressable audience and driving downloads of its official app
  • There were 45 million impressions, generated via custom display creative, among NCAA fans, boosting brand awareness
  • NCAA digital kiosks built for Trivia-playing across a number of locations during the NCAA season, increasing the future value of Jersey Mike's existing NCAA sponsorships.

"Genius’ understanding of our brand goals and the U.S. landscape is seriously impressive. We wanted to connect with college football fans in a fun and interactive way and Tailgate Trivia helped us build a real sense of community and loyalty." - Jeff Hemschoot, VP, Marketing, Jersey Mike's


Genius Sports
Jersey Mike's Subs


Matt Ryter
Head of Sales - Fan Engagement
Genius Sports

Jeff Hemschoot
VP Marketing
Jersey Mike's Subs

Katie Nolan
Jersey Mike's Subs

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