By Ryan Velez
When one door closes, a window opens. Only one day after the NFL ended its partnership with Papa John’s, Pizza Hut has swooped in to be the league’s next official pizza sponsor, according to the Wall Street Journal. In a statement on Wednesday, the NFL said that the new agreement is for multiple years and “will first unfold” during the player draft this spring. As part of the sponsorship, Pizza Hut can use NFL tickets and “unique fan experiences” for games in its marketing.
Papa John’s has been a partner with the league since 2010 and said that it will continue partnerships with 22 NFL teams and its relationships with league players and personalities.
“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,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in prepared remarks.
Greg Portell, Lead Partner for the consumer and retail practice at consulting firm A.T. Kearney, said half of these partnerships aren’t profitable for the sponsor.
“You ideally want high prestige, high financial return,” Mr. Portell said, but he added that it can be hard for companies to be objective in determining whether a sponsorship has panned out or not.
“Based on [Papa John’s] comments that they were seeing a financial impact…it’s fairly clear that this was the right move for them,” he said. One may recall how former CEO and co-founder John Schatter blamed anthem protests for lagging pizza sales last year. “If the viewership decline continues, we will need to shift into things that work more effectively for us,” Papa John’s President and COO Steve Ritchie told the Wall Street Journal. “We are anxiously awaiting a solution (to the anthem issue) to be created. That’s what will put the league in a positive place for the players, the fan base and the partners associated with them.” In our previous coverage, we noted how several brands got in on the ensuing dogpile against him.
“Pizza Hut was one of the first to get in on the action, with Greg Creed, the CEO of parent company Yum Brands, saying that the NFL protest had “no impact”on the chain’s sales. This statement was in response to the question of an analyst, but many were happy to see what was a rebuke to Papa John’s. Other pizza brands took a more direct approach, like DiGiorno’s with a series of tweets. At one point, the official account replied to a tweet saying that Papa John’s pizza tasted like “dog s***” a seeming approval of the statement.”