Formula to help ESPN Zone promote community support, dining experience

LOS ANGELES: ESPN Zone has hired Formula to elevate brand awareness and generate national media exposure. The firm's Los Angeles-based sports and entertainment division will manage the account.

LOS ANGELES: ESPN Zone has hired Formula to elevate brand awareness and generate national media exposure. The firm's Los Angeles-based sports and entertainment division will manage the account.

Owned by Disney Regional Entertainment, the eight-restaurant chain is ready to "refocus on the importance of PR as an overall effort," said Christine Baum, ESPN Zone's manager of marketing strategy and communications. The Glendale, CA-based brand selected Formula following an RFP, she said, for its creative approach and ability to target "two unique audiences: sports-minded families, and male sports fans between the ages of 25 and 32."

Outreach will include strategic PR, media relations, event planning, and a variety of grassroots marketing initiatives.

While "the perception of most sports bars is, they're great to watch a game and eat hot wings, ESPN Zone offers a great dining experience, as well," said Formula president Michael Olguin. "Definitely food editors are an important part of the campaign."

In addition, Olguin said, though the chain has "a very strong national story to tell, simultaneously, each [restaurant] is very localized by market."

While all ESPN Zones feature big-screen TVs and interactive games, each of its restaurants has to contend with different market interests. In Baltimore, for example, the brand is a strong supporter of the city's Blast soccer team; in Atlanta, it's ardently involved with Little League.

With that in mind, Olguin said, "localization is really an important part for them ... We have to be sensitive to each market; we can't use a boilerplate [PR] plan."

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