Bloomberg reported that Pizza Hut is the new NFL Sponsor for 2018. The sponsorship deal had previously been Papa John’s, but the company abandoned it and Pizza Hut took over it in a bid to revive its appeal by associating itself with the football league.
According to the sponsorship deal, Pizza Huts gets collective use of all 32 NFL team logos. The NFL will also work closely with restaurant chain for local team partnerships.
Papa John’s announced on Tuesday that it was ending its sponsorship deal, which had been in place since 2010 – with the whole league and would instead focus on 22 specific teams. The restaurant company had been increasing dissatisfied with falling ratings as well as the controversial handling of players’ protests during the National Anthem.
In fact, Papa John’s founder, John Schnatter had strongly criticized NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s handling of the controversy related to players kneeling in protest during the National Anthem. Schnatter also blamed the NFL’s handling of the situation for hurting the restaurant chain’s sales.
Papa John’s negative comments snowballed into a media disaster for the company, with stocks nosediving and Schnatter’s own net worth taking a beating too.
Now, thanks to the chain canceling its deal, Pizza Hut’s parent company, Yum! Brands Inc., has the chance of stepping in and using this opportunity to bolster Pizza Hut’s fading image.
Pizza Hut’s US president Artie Starrs as well as Goodell expressed their excitement over the new partnership. The NFL will help boost sales for the restaurant chain, and Pizza Hut in turn will give the league more money that it got from its deal with Papa John’s over the next four years.
Yum’s shares went up by 2.8% on after the announcement was made, taking the company’s share price to $82.46. Whether or not the NFL’s ratings are declining, the fact that the restaurant company’s shares immediately went up after being associated with the football league is proof of the organization’s value was a marketing tool.
While the NFL still is the most watched sports league in the country, it has been increasingly impacted by controversy and risks. Controversies regarding race issues in the country and the growing awareness about the high risk of injuries has led to fewer new young recruits wanting to join the game. Additionally, increased competition from other sports leagues – especially the NBA – have eaten into the NFL’s market share.
According to Forbes, this newly inked deal comes at an extremely opportune time for Pizza Hut. Just last week, arch rival Domino’s revealed that it had beaten Pizza Hut as the biggest pizza company in the world. The data is based on global retail sales. Dominos beat Pizza Hut’s annual retail sales of $12 billion last year by $0.2 billion dollars – the pizza company recorded retail sales of $12.2 billion for 2017.
Domino’s is also ahead of Pizza Hut on same store sales. Pizza Hut had flat same-store sales last year, while Domino’s posted a 7.7% growth in America and 3.4% growth across its international locations in same-store sales for the same time period.
NFL Commissioner Goodell was quick to promote Pizza Hut, saying that many NFL fans loved to eat pizza while watch the game, and that it was great that one of the leading pizza brands and industry leaders was going to be associated with the league.
Pizza Hut US President Starrs added on that the restaurant chain had the capability of taking this partnership to the next level, thanks to the power of their 7,500 restaurants as well as 150,000 football crazy staff.