Sponsor Insights

QSR Burger Brands Sponsorships

Not surprisingly, Quick Serve Restaurant (QSR) Burger brands are big players within US sports when it comes to sponsorship deals. In college athletics, 31% of the 153 brands have at least one partnership, while McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Whataburger lead the pack with 55, 40 and 34 deals respectively. 

The 5 major professional sports leagues are also prime targets for the category; 22% of brands have at least one deal with a team. Wendy’s (84), McDonald’s (63), Sonic (52), and Jack-in-the-Box (46) have the most partnerships with major pro teams. 

Properties with the most QSR Burger deals 

  • San Diego Padres: 15 (6 brands: McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Sonic, Jack in the Box, Smashburger, Hodad’s)
  • Los Angeles Dodgers: 13 (6 brands: McDonald’s, Jack in the Box, Wendy’s, In-n-Out Burger, Carl’s Jr., Shake Shack)
  • Houston Texans: 12 (4 brands: Jack in the Box, Whataburger, Freddy Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, Foreign Policy)
  • Arizona Diamondbacks: 11 (5 brands: Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers, Jack in the Box, Whataburger, Sonic, Wendy’s)
  • Nashville Predators: 11 (4 brands: Wendy’s, Hardee’s, Sonic, Jack in the Box)

Across all property types, McDonald’s tops the deal list by a huge margin:

Top 5 brands ranked by total deals (Sponsorship & Media)        

  • McDonald’s – 925
    • The chain has over 100 deals with local news networks & shows
  • Wendy’s – 553
  • Sonic – 210
  • Burger King – 170 
  • Whataburger – 145

QSR Burger brands favor Instagram and TikTok for their social sponsorships: a whopping 86% of the 14 million followers engaged by the category’s sponsored posts span the two channels. Total engagement was higher on Instagram (with over 8.5 million) versus TikTok (more than 5 million). 

Social

Overall Category Stats

  • Total engagement: 16,088,219
  • Avg engagement per post: 1,363
  • Avg engagement per deal: 14,441
  • Total Deals: 1,114
  • Posts: 10,504 (9 posts per deal) 
    • Bally Sports Southwest posted the most (898 times for Jack in the Box)
    • QSR Burger brands averaged 876 posts per month in last 12 months

As a category, QSR Burger makes great use of prominent musicians and influencers to engage millions of followers.

Top 5 deals by total engagement:

  1. McDonald’s: Kanye West – 1,649,229  (1 post)
  2. McDonald’s: Payton King – 1,501,758 (2 posts) 
  3. McDonald’s: Mariah Carey – 452,824 – 1,265,363 (13 posts)
  4. Checkers & Rally’s: Rick Ross (a franchisee) – 809,173 (5 posts)
  5. Burger King – Chase Hudson (Lil Huddy) – 646,162 – 3 posts

On TikTok–where 51 deals generated 86 posts, vs. Instagram’s 439 deals and 1,381 posts–QSR Burger brands’ average engagement per post (57,462) and per deal (107,889) eclipsed engagement on Instagram (5,949 and 19,771, respectively). 

Top 5 properties w/ QSR Burger-sponsored TikTok posts ranked by total engagement (minimum 2 posts):

  1. Payton King – McDonald’s: 1,501,758  (Influencer Payton King has the highest average engagement for QSR Burger-sponsored TikTok posts with 750,879 (14.23% of his followers)
  2. Mariah Carey – McDonald’s: 919,583
  3. Anthony & Ana – McDonald’s: 219,648
  4. Soy Nguyen – McDonald’s: 150,678
  5. Sofia Bella – McDonald’s: 90,598

As evidenced by the lists above, when it comes to QSR burger brands, McDonald’s dominates on numerous fronts. With total engagement topping more than 11M followers on social media, the chain garners a whopping 67% of all QSR Burger engagement. The megabrand also accounts for 35% of all QSR Burger posts–averaging 310 posts per month–and has 396 social deals that generated 3,727 posts over the last year.  

McDonald’s also averages engagement of 2,531 followers per post and 27,188 per property. The Calgary Flames posted the most for the brand in the past 12 months: the team’s 434 posts engaged 600,474 followers.  

On TikTok, McDonald’s also reigns supreme, with total engagement of 4,359,806 followers–a staggering 82% of all QSR Burger category engagement. Its 63 posts comprise 75% of the category’s sponsored posts on the channel, and average engagement numbers 64,115 per post and 136,244 per property, with 3.17% of the brand’s followers liking, sharing, or commenting on content. The rest of the top 5 QSR Burger brands have 10 properties and 14 posts combined on TikTok–meaning McDonald’s has 4.5 times more branded content on the channel than its competitors.  

Of the top 10 properties (ranked by total engagement) that partner with McDonald’s on TikTok, 8 are influencers; Mariah Carey and Celine Tran are the only non-influencers. The brand recently teamed up with TikTok viral sensation Tisakorean to drop “Static,” an end-of-summer anthem celebrating fans’ love of Sprite. 

On October 3rd, McDonald’s unveiled its first campaign with streetwear brand, Cactus Plant Flea Market, to launch a limited edition Happy Meal for adults: the Cactus Plant Flea Market Box. Predictably, the campaign is already getting heavy exposure on TikTok.

 

Apparel & Accessories Leads In NIL Deals

More than 1,000 brands have partnered with collegiate athletes in NIL deals over the last 15 months, and that number continues to be on the rise.

Through August 2022, 1,637 NIL partnerships have been inked across college sports, which collectively include 3,381 social posts. Engagement across all deals stood at 34M– averaging 20,839 per deal–while average engagement per post numbered 7,069, with 5.14% of followers engaging.

Here’s a breakdown of the top 5 industry categories in the NIL space by number of deals, with a quick look at their respective leading players.

Apparel & Accessories

  • The Players Trunk : 60% of the brand’s overall NIL partnerships are with men’s college basketball athletes. 
  • Adidas: The brand has NIL deals with athletes in 8 sports, while 51% of its NIL partnerships are with female athletes (21% women’s soccer; 15% softball; 15% women’s volleyball). 
  • American Eagle Outfitters: 46% of American Eagle Outfitters’ NIL partnerships are with college football athletes–30% of whom play for Ohio State. LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne’s 9 American Eagle Outfitters posts have racked up a total engagement of 2,333,957 so far. 

 

Technology

  • Players’ Lounge: 91% of the gaming brand’s overall partnerships are with college athletes, of which 79% are football players.  
  • Epic Games: College football players comprise 54% of the brand’s NIL partnerships are with football athletes. While female basketball players only account for 13% of its deals, University of Oregon’s Sedona Prince tops Epic’s partner list for highest total social engagement (25,489) and average engagement per post (12,745). 
  • Mercury NFT: 68% of the brand’s overall partnerships are with college athletes:  62% in men’s Basketball and 6% in football. 

 

Quick Serve Restaurants (QSR)

  • Raising Cane’s: While 42% of the chicken finger specialist’s NIL partnerships are with football athletes, the brand is the only QSR that has a partnership with a (female) wrestler–Marlee Smith (Arizona State). Football player Stetson Bennet boasts the brand’s highest total and average engagement, at 46,964 and 23,482, respectively. 
  • Krystal: 59% of the Georgia-based burger maker’s overall partnerships are with college athletes (37% football; 12% men’s basketball; 10% women’s basketball). Georgia women’s soccer player Abby Boyan is its one NIL deal outside of football and basketball. 
  • Bojangles: 27% of the chicken-and-biscuit brand’s NIL partnerships are with female athletes (23% women’s basketball; 5% softball), while 52% are with football players. 

 

Financial 

  • FTX: 65% of the brand’s NIL partnerships are with football players, while 23% of FTX’s overall partnerships are with college athletes (17% football; 6% men’s basketball). Sacramento State men’s basketball player Deshaun Highler totaled 19 posts for FTX, with a total engagement of 33,233. 
  • H&R Block: 94% of the tax prep company’s partnerships are with female athletes. South Carolina women’s basketball player Zia Cooke leads its list of athlete endorsers: 5 of her posts for the brand scored total engagement of 200,248 followers. 
  • Current: 53% of the fintech brand’s NIL partnerships are with football players. Nebraska Women’s volleyball standout Lexi Rodriguez and Arizona State women’s wrestler Marlee Smith boast Current’s top two total engagements on social, at 8,628 and 1,858, respectively. 

 

Non-Alcoholic Beverages

  • UPTIME Energy: 44% of the brand’s overall partnerships are with college softball players. It’s 1 of 6 brands (along with Magic Spoon, Champs Sports, DoorDash, DSW, and Met-Rx) to have a partnership with a men’s soccer athlete–Jared Panson of Brandeis University–and 1 of 2 non-alcoholic beverage brands (along with Rowdy Energy) to partner with a lacrosse athlete.  
  • Simple Truth: 55% of its overall partnerships are with men’s basketball players.  
  • Six Star Pro Nutrition: 24% of the brand’s total partnerships are with college basketball athletes (16% men’s; 8% women’s). It’s the only non-alcoholic beverage partnered with a (female) golfer: Stanford University’s Rachel Heck.   

 

The top 5 brands by number of deals in the NIL space are:

  1. Hooters: 40% of the brand’s overall partnerships are with college football players. One of its notable NIL deals outside the sport is with University of Arkansas golfer John Daly II, son of professional golfer John Daly.
  2. Players’ Lounge (see above)
  3. FTX (see above)
  4. Raising Cane’s (see above)
  5. Degree: The deodorant brand has deals with athletes across 11 college sports; 24% of its NIL partnerships are with female athletes.  

QSR in Esports

As the momentum of Esports continues to snowball, Quick Serve Restaurants (QSR) are increasingly taking a bite of the action. 

More than 30 QSR brands–each with nearly 3 sponsorship deals on average within Esports–currently buy sponsorship/media within Esports, while 22% have 5 or more. The top-five brands ranked by number of deals are: 

  • McDonald’s
  • KFC
  • Chipotle
  • Jack-in-the-Box
  • Subway 

McDonald’s also ranks No. 1 in sponsorship growth, with more than 10 new deals with Esports properties, mainly teams and leagues, over the last 12 months. In June, multinational Esports organization Gen.G and McDonald’s renewed their McDonald’s Crew League partnership, designed to recruit and retain employees through gaming. 

Other recent link-ups include Chipotle’s April collaboration with gaming influencer Karl Jacobs, to promote the launch of its new pollo asado chicken menu item with a limited-time “Karl Jacobs Burrito.”  Papa John’s partnered with Esports tournament operator Beyond the Summit (BTS) in May to launch a Super Smash Bros-centered community campaign.

QSR brands and Esports organizations utilize social media posts in more than 85% of deals. Out of the top-five emerging assets, Twitter reigns supreme: images, videos, and text posts on the channel take the first, fourth, and fifth spots, respectively. 

In total, there are currently 1,100-plus branded posts across more than 130 deals; the most-engaged post, at more than 600K followers, was between Jacobs and Chipotle. Engagement totals more than 3.5 million across all social posts, with the average engagement per deal just north of 28K. 

QSR Pizza | SponsorInsights

A category dominated by three giant corporations, Papa Johns, Domino’s, & Pizza Hut, the QSR Pizza category has over 180 active brands buying sponsorship / media. 33% of all deals in this category include Television Ads. On average, each QSR pizza brand with a deal has three sponsorships. This number increased to 5 when adding broadcast media deals. 

As the Official Pizza of March Madness, Pizza Hut created the “Struggle Bus” to help those who find themselves struggling by delivering relief in the form of pizza delivery on an actual bus. Pizza Hut has over 65 sponsorship deals and over 100 broadcast media deals. Their top market for sponsorship and media deals is Dallas-Fort Worth, where Pizza Hut’s headquarters is located.

In Dec ’21, Burnley Football Club and Papa Johns announced a partnership. This deal includes a new mobile unit to serve Papa Johns pizza at home games. Papa Johns has more than 100 sponsorship deals with 44% of those deals including TV-Visible signage. Competing in the state of Texas with Pizza Hut, their top market is Houston.

Domino’s has over 30 sponsorships across the NCAA which accounts for nearly 45% of their overall deals. 54% of their sponsorships include Interior Signage, whether it is TV-Visible or other signage like Digital Ads on the Videoboard, Dasher Board or Ribbon Board signage.

QSR Pizza