Pizza Hut will be the new official pizza sponsor of the NFL. This announcement comes a day after Papa John’s severed ties with the National Football League three years earlier than their contract stipulated. In a joint statement with the NFL, Papa John’s said it was a mutually agreed-upon decision.
Pizza Hut’s sponsorship deal begins April 1, which means they will likely utilize the NFL Draft, which takes place April 26-28, as a key advertising opportunity. To make matters more ideal, the draft is even being held near their headquarters in North Dallas. The exact terms of Pizza Hut’s sponsorship deal have not been disclosed, though the NFL claims it will last for multiple years. So expect to see a lot more of Hut commercials during the seasons to come.
In an interview with CNBC, Artie Starrs, the president of Pizza Hut’s U.S. division said, “There’s so many things that we are excited about. At our core we are an innovative, entertaining brand and I think that’s what the NFL is too.” Pizza Hut is already the largest pizza chain in the country, with over 7,500 locations, more than double that of Papa John’s. It’s hard to imagine them having even more visibility on a national level, but this deal will certainly ensure that.
This news also comes four months after former Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter was extremely critical of the league. He also blamed the NFL protests during the national anthem for declining pizza sales. I’m sure the fact that Papa John’s pizza is just a step up from Ellio’s microwaveable bricks has absolutely nothing to do with it.
While Papa John’s has parted ways with the league, football will still play a key role in their marketing agenda. Going forward, they plan to keep and pursue sponsorships at a team and individual play level.
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