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Wacky's is an Ontario based sports bar with seven locations across the province.

The chain is known for its custom wooden tables, chairs and bar tops, endless chicken wing choices, and a fun, friendly atmosphere. It's a great place for anyone to eat and hang out!

A few years ago, however, the Wacky's leadership team noticed something: The restaurant's entertainment options wasn't fitting their clientele. Guests weren't responding to the music being played, and the TVs – lots of TVs – weren't garnering much attention outside of the big game.

Taps at Wacky's pouring beer with patrons in background

The Solution?

Control Play.

Control Play's Music Mixology team was up to the task. The group – a mix of playlists specialists, technologists, and data geeks – dove deep into the Wacky's experience. They examined the makeup and tastes of the crowd throughout the day. Eventually, they hit on exactly what was happening.

Wacky's was attracting and catering to a mature business lunch and after-work crowd, but the entertainment options weren't changing as they began to leave and families, as well as the mid-20s crowd filled the restaurant during and after dinner.

To achieve a vibe that appealed to everyone, our Mixologists crafted a custom playlist strategy that made sure music and music video choices would change along with the guests.

The Wacky's Playlist Playbook

The crowd at Wacky’s varies dramatically depending on the day and time. Here’s how Control Play and this Ontario sports bar chain are using the Power of the Playlist—and one of the world’s largest content libraries—to thrill guests from open until close.

Daypart 1: Lunchtime

It’s lunchtime at Wacky Wings as they welcome in the first customers of the day. At this point, we see a lot of business types coming in for a quick lunch, with a mix of blue collar males there for the same thing. While these are two different demographics, we're seeing an equal balance of both, making it crucial that we mix the music to cater to each demographic. So, to accommodate both of these groups, you'd hear artists like CCR, Foreigner, and David Bowie, mixed with some of the newer stuff from The Foo Fighters and Gary Clark Jr. These artists speak to our blue-collar half of the Wacky Wings lunchtime crowd. To appease our business types, along with any secondary demographics they may have, we add in some pop music from artists like Maroon 5, Beyonce, and Justin Bieber.

We believe in setting the right energy level for each specific daypart. Our energy rating system is scaled 1-5, with 1 being a very low-intensity song and working up to 5, which is an 'absolute banger,’ as the kids say. With Wacky Wings being a Sports Bar, things are always upbeat, and that doesn’t change because we keep the songs between an energy level of 3-5 during this daypart.

Business lunch crowd and regulars at Wacky's

Daypart 2: Dinner

Dinner time at Wacky Wings means we need to keep our options open, as we now have a wide range of demographics at the venue. There's still the after-work business types back for Happy Hour, but at the same time, the crowd is getting younger—so why shouldn’t the music?

We keep classic rock in the picture because families are still coming in for dinner, however, the focus currently has us leaning heavier on Top 40 and pop music to cater to the larger percentage of different people in the room. It seems tough to mix Top 40 with Classic Rock, but the way our playlist team sorts the metadata on each song, we're able to create an atmosphere where changes in genre blend perfectly. As for the artists you might hear in this daypart, we're seeing Rihanna, and Justin Timberlake blending with some throwback artists like Salt-N-Peppa & Run DMC, alongside classic rock artists like Queen and Van Halen.

The energy level for this doesn’t change too much from what we were offering earlier in the day, staying in the 3-5 range. We don’t quite get to party level yet, as we leave the 3’s in the mix to allow for conversation, and we'll blend the music with the game's audio, since they'll be getting started right about now.

Booths of people enjoying dinner at Wacky Wings

Daypart 3: Late-night

After dinner, it’s all about the game and post game activities at Wacky Wings—so this is where the energy really starts to pick up!

With dinner out of the way, families are heading out the door and the 20-somethings are starting to fill in, which is why there's a change in the music that's playing. We gear the music more towards artists like Selena Gomez & Outkast, with high energy rock from bands like Blink-182 & The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Energy levels are going up and up with the music the game winds down to keep the vibe consistent. With this after dinner, younger crowd, we have set the energy level at 4’s & 5’s.

Packed bar at Wacky Wings

Daypart 4: Weekend Nights

Saturday and Sunday nights is prime time for sports—a busy time for a venue like Wacky Wings!

The core demographic has now changed as we gear towards the 18-25 demographic. To do this, we start including dance/EDM categories into the mix. While we still offer a little rock music from artists like Green Day & ACDC—because they mesh well with sports on screen—the main focus is on Top 40 and dance music. During this time you hear artists like Bruno Mars, Demi Lovato and Calvin Harris.

The energy level stays high here with us focusing again on 4’s and 5’s to match the intensity of sports and we'll mix the music with game highlights on the many TVs in house.

Weekend crowd at Wacky's Wings bar

The Holidays

As the holidays approach, the mixology team begins including holiday music to Wacky Wings’ branded experience. 1 or 2 holiday songs per hour from late November, and may focus on special categories we have created for this time of year like our ‘Xmas - Not Xmas’, which is how we can get away with playing Holiday music in November. This category contains songs like Christina Aguilera’s ‘This Year’ and John Mellencamp’s ‘Teddi’s Song.’ The Holiday music amps up in mid-December gradually escalating to 3 to 5 holiday songs an hour. At this point we are safe to bring in the classic Christmas tunes like Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ or Run DMC’s ‘Christmas in the Hollis.’ The holiday content is rested after December 31st.

Focus on holiday decoration at bar with blurred patrons in background

The Results?

Happier Crowds & a Better Vibe

The Wacky's experience has never been better. The tasty wings, cold drinks, and great fun is matched with music and music video playlists that fit perfectly with the makeup of the crowd. Dayparts and scheduling is managed easily, whether it's the business lunch crowd, or the nightlife-seeking younger crowd. 

Now, when people walk into Wacky's Wings, their expectations are exceeded. Anyone can assume this place will serve up great wings and cold beer, but coming into a place that plays the music they want to hear and has the videos they want to see makes the guest experience complete. 

"The feedback has been awesome. Control Play is a great solution for my business entertainment!”

- Wacky's founder Craig Burgess

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