What’s better than watching your favorite team steamroll its bitterest rival? Cashing in on discounted, or even free, food and drinks the day after comes pretty close.

Nothing compares to the sports industry’s popularity and intensity in America, so it only makes sense that brands would tap into its extremely loyal and passionate fan base.

Papa John’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and Sonic are among the most active when it comes to handing out hefty day-after home team victory discounts: PJ’s offers half-off pizzas, Dunkin’ runs free medium hot or iced coffees, and Sonic gives away free slushies.*

*All examples are regional offers.

Deals like that seem too good to be true. So why are companies willing to give away so much product so often? Let’s examine Dunkin’ Donuts for the answer.

In the Philadelphia market, Dunkin’ quenches Eagles fans’ thirst for victory by giving away free coffee the day after an Eagles win. The catch? You have to download DD’s app to participate. This deal just got way more enticing for the Boston-based breakfast juggernaut. In a world where digital is marketing’s MVP, giving away free products for sixteen weeks out of the year in return for droves of new app users is a slam dunk, or should I say touchdown?

The digital component is a common thread through other brands’ sports-related discounts. Papa John’s uses online promo codes as the key to unlocking piping-hot cheese and pepperoni victory.

Some might say that piggybacking off a sports team’s following is a creative punt. My response to that is: Even the most creatively groundbreaking idea, in reality, will amount to tremors compared to a well-executed sports partnership. Being creative just for creative’s sake makes as much cents (and, yes, that’s what you’ll be making: cents) as Whitey Bulger claiming jai alai would be the next big thing in American sports.

Work smarter, not harder. The sports industry has a massive built-in fan base at your disposal. Take advantage of it.      

Also, to companies hesitant about giving away large amounts of products in exchange for gaining young, passionate sports fans, I’ll say this: it would behoove you to start thinking of customers as friends. If there’s one thing nobody likes in a bro or girl squad member, it’s a cheapo. You have to give to get. People appreciate, and tend to stick with, friends who share. 

The marketing lesson to be had here is don’t overlook the gigantic following that sports teams have. How many times has your first impression of someone changed once finding out his or her sports allegiance matches your own? People tend to drift toward those with whom they have things in common. The same is true with brands. Make a connection. Give a token of friendship in return for theirs. And reap the rewards.