By Tony Soflti


The NFL announced today (Feb. 28, 2018) a new Pizza partnership.  Out goes Papa Johns and in comes Pizza Hut.  No better time to stir up excitement then sixty days before the NFL Draft the largest off season event.  Pizza Hut becomes the Official Pizza Sponsor of the NFL. 

I was not a big fan of Papa Johns even though I liked the Peyton Manning commercials. 
The multi-year deal will give Pizza Hut exclusive marketing rights and benefits that will connect both brands, its teams, players, all events and partner relationships across a broad spectrum.

“We know many of our fans enjoy pizza while watching NFL games and we are thrilled to have Pizza Hut, an industry leader and one of America’s favorite brands, as an official league sponsor,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “With a focus on family, friends and fun, Pizza Hut has the creativity we are looking for in a partner and we look forward to working together with them to make the at-home NFL experience more exciting than ever for our fans.”

Several months ago Papa John’s founder John Schnatter, then the CEO, made a statement about NFL players on their protesting during the national anthem was hurting Papa John business nationwide. They removed the NFL’s iconic brand their shield off its commercials during game broadcasts and off its pizza boxes.

Schnatter’s political move to openly slap the NFL and blame the related drop in business because of the player kneeling protest didn’t sit well with the sports giant. 

“We are disappointed the NFL and its leadership did not resolve this,” Schnatter said at the time. A few weeks later, after the Papa Johns stock dropped 12 percent, Schnatter apologized for his comments.  Pizza sales for Papa Johns dropped 3.9% of its country wide stores during the NFL season.  Schnatter the face of the brand, was replaced as CEO on Jan. 1.

NFL new partner Pizza Hut has a long standing tradition of connecting with football fans thru promotions, experiences and excitement for the whole family and all NFL fans.  The NFL partnership will get the red carpet roll out during the 2018 NFL Draft to be held near its global headquarters in North Dallas, don’t be surprised if Pizza Hut shows up at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine.

“Pizza Hut has a history of bringing more entertaining food and experiences to the pizza occasion and we plan to continue that through our exclusive partnership with the NFL,” said Artie Starrs, President, Pizza Hut U.S. “NFL stadiums are packed every week but tens of millions of fans are also watching the game at home. We have an unmatched ability to bring those fans closer to the sport thanks to the power of our 7,200 restaurants and 150,000 football-crazed team members. The capacity for what’s possible is endless and that’s going to make this league partnership great fun for Pizza Hut, the NFL and everyone who loves pizza and football.”

Pizza Hut partnership will include the collective use of all 32 team markets, also the two brands working closely with Pizza Hut to facilitate local, exclusive team partnerships, unique fan experiences to all NFL games in marketing and promotional campaigns throughout each year.

“The opportunity to align in an official capacity with the NFL is a tremendous opening for a brand and product that is so neatly aligned with the football-watching occasion like pizza and Pizza Hut,” said Andy Rosen, Pizza Hut franchise owner and Franchise Board of Directors Chairman. “Our system is aligned behind and thrilled about this partnership. No one better understands the essence of Pizza Hut, including our consumers, than our group of owners and team members.”

The NFL is all about creating ways to reach their fan base that doesn’t walk through the turnstiles and fill stadiums, with Pizza Hut’s innovation this past year may help bridge that relationship for those having Sunday & Monday night fantasy football parties and ordering a pie from the hut  They introduced a number of digital enhancements, including a Delivery Tracker allowing users to track their pizza from order to delivery, and exclusively receive updates via text message. Also, Pizza Hut fans can take advantage of one-button reorder functionality, visible promise time, and voice ordering through a variety of devices. 

Pizza Hut has more than 7,200 restaurants in the USA and 16,700 worldwide in over 100 countries is the branding the NFL craves. 

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