Emily Bryson York
Papa John’s has found a back door to the Super Bowl: The chain will run a 30-second spot just before halftime for the latest installment of its "Papa’s in the House" campaign — but its check for the ad time will be written to the National Football League, not to CBS.
Papa John’s chief marketing executive, Andrew Varga, declined to give the price of his company’s deal, or confirm that a 30-second spot from the NFL costs less than the $3 million asking price from CBS.
The spot will be filmed at the Pro Bowl this weekend, showing founder and CEO John Schnatter delivering pizzas at that game in the hopes that it will look like a Super Bowl giveaway. Papa John’s had hoped to film live on Super Bowl Sunday, but was told it would be impossible, due to game-day security. The company is still mum on specifics, but Mr. Schnatter’s giveaway is meant to salute NFL fans as well as those behind the scenes at games.
In its "Papa’s in the House" commercials from agency Z Group, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Mr. Schnatter has delivered pizzas at a birthday party, field-hockey game and a fire house. On New Year’s Eve, the company partnered with Countdown Entertainment and the Times Square Alliance to film Mr. Schnatter delivering pizzas to the crowd watching the ball drop. The chain did a similar integration with the NFL for the Jan. 17 playoffs.
While the NFL has done a number of integrations in the past, most famously with Burger King’s King character, Mr. Varga said this is unlike previous integrations in that it will not be using licensed NFL footage, but creating content in collaboration with the league. As for Papa’s decision to hop on the Big Game bandwagon this year, Mr. Varga said, "from a timing perspective it couldn’t have been better."
He said that consumers have displayed real interest as to where Papa will pop up next. "We have the opportunity to take it to the greatest house of them all, which is the Super Bowl. And just the whole notion, when the opportunity came up, where were we with our messaging and that we believed we could take it to the biggest level." On a regional level, Papa John’s already sponsors nine NFL teams, among them the Baltimore Ravens, Washington Redskins and Indianapolis Colts.
Papa has built up to its buy with a sweepstakes for two tickets and accommodations for the game, and related special offers, such as the "Super XL IV," an offer of any extra-large pizza with four toppings for $11.99, and the "1st and 10," any large pizza for $10. Consumers also have reason to hope for a high-scoring game. Anyone ordering a large cheese pizza for $9 during the three days after the game will get a free topping for every touchdown scored.
There’s also a series of charitable components to the deal. Papa John’s will make donations to Habitat for Humanity, up to $1 million in addition to the $100,000 already donated to help earthquake victims in Haiti. It’s also signed former Colts coach Tony Dungy as honorary chairman of the "National Football Month" it declared in mid-January. Mr. Dungy’s All-Pro Dads charity, dedicated to helping men become more involved fathers, receives $1 for every "All-Pro Dads" combo meal ordered from the chain’s website this month.#