Strategic Partnerships Boost Papa John’s Sales and National Brand Awareness
Strategic Partnerships Boost Papa John’s Sales and National Brand Awareness

By teaming up with major sports organizations and embracing the latest technology, Papa John’s positions itself as the pizza chain to beat.

There’s no shortage of brands competing to be the best pizza delivery chain in the country. That’s why it’s essential for companies to find innovative ways to stand out.

In order to pull ahead in the increasingly competitive pizza race, Papa John’s is banking on numerous strategic partnerships. And so far, its efforts appear to be working. One of its most successful deals is with major sports organizations—Papa John’s works with both Major League Baseball and the National Football League. For example, the brand’s “Papa Slam” deal offers customers 40 percent off a pizza whenever any MLB player hits a grand slam. The brand has also signed a multi-year partnership with the NFL and Super Bowl, allowing Papa John’s to use the league’s logos and trademarks in marketing campaigns.

It’s clear that these campaigns are making a difference—last month the brand reported that its same-store sales increased by nearly five percent in the second quarter, right at the height of baseball season.

In an interview with Business Insider, Robert Thompson, senior vice president of marketing at Papa John’s, said, “Watching sports is all about sharing an experience. Pizza, too, is meant to be a shared experience. We noticed that connection a long time ago as we began to grow and elevate our marketing efforts both locally and nationally.”

These sports partnerships are nothing new—Papa John’s is the official sponsor of more than 150 professional and collegiate teams, giving the brand an opportunity to target specific markets and groups of consumers. But the brands partnerships don’t stop there.

Papa John’s was also recently connected to the Ghostbusters reboot. The brand launched a marketing campaign featuring its founder using a Slimer, introduced a new pizza special as a limited time offer and even had one of its boxes featured as a product placement spot in the film. Thompson said Papa John’s was interested in partnering with the film and Sony Pictures because it was an opportunity to reach multiple generations of American consumers.

He told brandchannel, “At Papa John’s, many of us are already big fans of the original, and we were thrilled to have the opportunity to get involved with the reboot and reach a whole new millennial audience.”

The pizza chain is also competing for millennial business by stepping up its digital ordering efforts. Papa John’s recently unveiled a customizable ordering app on Apple TV, which is the first of its kind in the pizza industry. The app gives customers the opportunity to customize all of their orders as well as payment and delivery information. Plus, all orders made through Apple TV come with a 25 percent discount. It’s a smart move for the brand, considering 55 percent of Papa John’s orders are made through some type of digital platform.

“We found there are new ordering occasions that were happening out there all the time… especially with streaming videos and all the binge watching that is happening,” said Papa John’s senior director of digital marketing Anne Fischer in an interview with Business Insider.

By embracing the digital trend and teaming up with both Hollywood and major sports organizations, Papa John’s has the chance to boost its brand awareness on a national level. And as the brand continues to capitalize on these opportunities, it’s likely that it’ll take the lead in the race to become the nation’s preferred pizza chain.