Pizza Hut Becomes the Official Pizza of the NFL
Last Wednesday, Pizza Hut was proud to announce that they have become the official pizza sponsor for the NFL, pushing out Papa Johns only a day after they announced they had ended their NFL sponsorship deal. Pizza Hut has signed a multiyear agreement with the NFL, which will be in effect until the year 2021. The company now has the title of “Official Pizza Sponsor of the NFL” and will have exclusive marketing rights for the NFL and it’s teams, events, and players.
“We know many of our fans enjoy pizza while watching NFL games and we are thrilled to have Pizza Hut, an industry leader and one of America’s favorite brands, as an official league sponsor,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. He continued on saying, “With a focus on family, friends and fun, 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.”
Papa Johns, the previous pizza sponsor for the NFL said that the decision to end their deal with the NFL was mutual. While the partnership was highly beneficial for the pizza company for a number of years, they became dragged down by political controversy, which may have resulted in the termination of the deal.
Robert Thompson, senior vice president of marketing at Papa John’s told Business Insider in 2016, “Our partnership with the NFL, in particular, has been exceptional. One of the reasons the NFL is such a strong marketing opportunity is because of the number of people that watch games live whether it be at home or in the stadium.”
After the 2016 controversy that stemmed from 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decision to kneel during the national anthem, Schnatter, CEO at the time, made some comments regarding his disagreement with the situation. He said, “We are totally disappointed that the NFL and its leadership did not resolve the ongoing situation to the satisfaction of all parties long ago. This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago.” These statements proved to be a striking blow to Papa John’s, when they found themselves embattled in a political controversy that sparked debate between the left and the right, and they found themselves unable to continue serving as the official pizza of the NFL.
With Pizza Hut now the official pizza of the NFL, they will be battling with problems of their own. In recent years, NFL viewership has been declining. For the second-straight year, NFL TV ratings have been in decline, which could prove to be a problem for Pizza Hut, especially considering the large cost of holding this sponsorship. Analysts for the NFL have cited the reasons behind declining viewership as being political controversies, excessive commercials, and “cord cutters” who no longer feel the need to pay for cable.
Either way, the move to becoming the official pizza sponsor of the NFL is a good move for Pizza Hut, and definitely a blow for Papa John’s. Papa John’s says they will continue to advertise to NFL fans, but Pizza Hut will have the advantage of being able to advertise with all 32 teams.