Pizza Hut didn’t let any grass grow beneath its feet when Papa John’s and the NFL officially cut ties last February. The nationally known pizza maker quickly filled the space as the official NFL sponsor. Week 1 of the NFL calendar year begins with the September 9th Falcons vs Eagles game, and also marks the beginning of Pizza Hut’s expansive plans for its first year marketing strategy that encourages fans to order pizza for a fun time ‘homegating’ experience; watching the game from home.
Pizza Hut has evolved into a delivery and digital-centric business,” said Marianne Radly, Pizza Hut’s chief brand officer, “so as people have changed the way they interact with our pizza, the vast majority of NFL fans are enjoying the game at home. As we were looking at considering this sponsorship and getting into it, you look at the hundreds of thousands of people in the stadium watching the game, but there’s millions of more at home. We thought this was the perfect opportunity.”
As part of the roll-out, Pizza Hut will engage with three top line channels through sponsorship.
Firstly, they will launch a “Game Plan” digital platform through its Huts Rewards loyalty program. Customers sign-in, pick their favorite team and then Pizza Hut sends “kickoff reminders,” along with exclusive offers and chances to win prizes throughout the season. One top prize includes an all-expenses paid trip for two to Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta. The reminder sends an alert three hours before game time about the upcoming contest and asking if they want to place a pizza order.
Radly adds, “It’s really about making it easier, and it’s rewarding them for their purchase.”
Secondly, in addition to the reminders and contests, the Game Plan platform will enable Pizza Hut to offer Sunday deals side items for increased incentive. Pizza Hut is offering a large, two-topping deal for $7.99 all season long delivered with new pizza boxes sporting all 32 NFL team logos.
These boxes are then used to unlock “Beanbag Blitz,” an AR version of cornhole. By downloading to an Android or iOS devise, players can line up up their phone camera with the top of the box and play a two person game of virtual cornhole.
Radly comments, “We thought, wouldn’t it be fun to take tailgating and bring it to the home … we are heavily engaging in the digital space. That’s where our customers are living, and we thought this would be a fun thing to bring to them.”
“We tapped into technology to deliver a truly immersive gameday experience to fans— specifically combining what they’re most passionate about: their team, the spirit of competition, and of course, pizza,” adds Zipporah Allen, chief marketing officer, in a statement. “Incorporating this AR component into our lineup of new experiences is broadening our digital portfolio and engaging fans in a completely new way.”
Lastly, Pizza Hut teamed with Pittsburgh Steelers wideouts Antonio Brown and Juju Smith Schuster to produce ad messaging set to start airing this week.
“We are thrilled to kick off our first season with Pizza Hut as the official pizza of the National Football League,” said Renie Anderson, senior vice president, NFL Partnerships, Sponsorship & Consumer Products, in a statement. “As we saw with their awesome ‘Doorbell Dance’ for the Draft, Pizza Hut has really creative and engaging ways of activating around our brand and fans—and pizza lovers—everywhere should be excited for what they have planned for this NFL season.”
“We’re excited about the season. I think when you look at the three things we’re focused on, with our Game Plan, and our advertising, and really just our packaging, it’s all tying into this great experience for customers at home,” said Radly “The ease of ordering. Ordering our pizza and ordering our wings, and sitting there catching the game—there’s going to be nothing better.”