Partnerships / Acquisitions

Pizza Hut Takes The Pass From Papa John’s For NFL Sponsorship

The National Football League (NFL) and pizza quick service restaurant (QSR) Papa John’s made news when they agreed to end their sponsorship agreement, but Pizza Hut has since signed up to be the league’s official pizza sponsor — and it’s reportedly paying more for it than Paper John’s did, according to the Washington Post.

Through the agreement, Pizza Hut gains use of all 32 NFL team trademarks. There will, however, still be local partnerships between Papa John’s and 22 of the teams. Speaking about its relationship with the NFL on an earnings call, Papa John’s CEO, Steve Ritchie, said the company will be pursuing other marketing opportunities.

“While the NFL remains an important channel for us, we have determined that there are better ways to reach and activate this audience,” Ritchie said.

The relationship between the NFL and Papa John’s became strained when the pizza retailer’s former CEO, John Schnatter, said national anthem demonstrations by NFL players were hurting sales. He also claimed the NFL had “poor leadership.”

Papa John’s previously made news when it introduced an Apple TV app in 2016 that allows customers to order and pay for a pizza directly from the device. Instead of huddling around a computer or mobile device, or even calling to place an order, the app projects the capability right onto the TV screen.

“Through our partnerships with the NFL and the MLB, we know that live sports continue to be very popular and a major pizza ordering occasion,” said Anne Fischer, senior director of digital innovation at Papa John’s, in an interview at the time. “We see a role for that in the future just as much as we do today, but we’re also seeing this explosion happening of these streaming devices, and so, we want to be there as well, and I think Apple TV was a good first foray into that.”

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