The top eight stories you probably didn’t need to know in franchising this week.
1. Frantastic: In what is truly Frantastic news for our most talked about pizza chain, Papa John’s announced it has secured a $200 million strategic investment from activist hedge fund Starboard Value LP to kick off a brand turnaround. After months of well-documented turbulence that included the brand going to war with its former founder and weighing a possible sale, the move appears to have put Papa John’s on the right track. Starboard is no stranger to brand turnarounds, either; in 2014, the fund took control of Olive Garden’s parent company and led it to a 47 percent stock increase in just 18 months.
2. Franlebrity: Recently named to 2019’s Nation’s Restaurant News Power List, Taco Bell global chief brand officer Marisa Thalberg is doing big things since taking on the role early last year. From record-breaking new product launches to buzzworthy fan experiences, the brand continues to engage and grow its customer base thanks to Thalberg and a team of other women leaders shaping the quick-service brand.
3. Frash Money: After extensive pilot testing over the course of last season, the Tampa Bay Rays are going cashless at Tropicana Field for the 2019 season. The move will make the MLB park the first completely cash-free sports venue in North America, with all concessions, team stores, the box office and other points of sale operating without a cash option. The Rays worked with hospitality provider Levy and tech firm E15 on the transition, which reduced average transaction time by 50 percent and converted the wait time at the ballpark’s highest-volume stand from seven minutes to less than two, testing revealed.
4. Frant of the Week: Relationships are a two-way street, both in life and in business. That being said, we don’t always get out what we put in, which is when relationships become transactions. In his latest Frant, 1851 publisher and No Limit Agency CEO Nick Powills discusses what 2018 taught him about business transactions — with team members and with clients. Despite the disappointment left in their wake, these tough lessons teach us to move forward by defining our own vision and pursuing it, no holds barred.
5. Franch Forward: KFC is continuing its string of innovative promotional stunts by holding a creative contest exclusively on Reddit this Valentine’s Day. Contestants were invited to enter into one of three contests: a Photoshop battle, storytelling challenge or drawing duel. The contest is interesting for a couple of reasons: Reddit is reportedly raising a round of funding that will bring it near a $3 billion valuation, likely enticing more brands to engage with the platform, and the three lucky contest winners receive an arguably terrifying faux bearskin rug in the likeness of Colonel Sanders.
6. Fran Funny: We want to know — which Super Bowl commercial won the night for you last Sunday? Tell us on Facebook!
7. Franspiration: “If you want to be a place that people really want to work, you need to create challenging — but not difficult — work; you need to keep it simple, but not easy; you need to provide a clear path, give ongoing feedback and really focus on coaching, mentoring and training your people.” — Restaurant HR Group CEO Carrie Luxem on how to become an employer of choice.
8. Franemies vs. Frands: Bud Light took aim at its foes in a series of Super Bowl commercials this past weekend, calling out competitors Miller Lite and Coors Light for using corn syrup in their products, while Bud Light does not. Miller Lite responded with a full-page ad in the New York Times addressing the “corn-troversy,” explaining the difference between corn syrup, which it does use in its brewing process, and high-fructose corn syrup, which it does not. Whose side are you on?