Industry News | February 13, 2013 | QSR Exclusive Brief

Pizza Brands Turn Valentine’s Day Into a Family Celebration

Forget chocolate and roses: This year, lovebirds are celebrating with pizza—or that’s what several pizza brands are banking on.

And instead of making it a couple-centric dining opportunity, chains like Papa Murphy’s are trying to transform Valentine’s Day into a family-friendly occasion.

“We’re trying to turn it from a more romantic holiday to really a time to bring the entire family together and celebrate one evening at home, where you can make the kids feel special, as well,” says Diana McAllister, director of marketing for Papa Murphy’s.

In a recent national survey conducted by the take-and-bake pizza chain, 42 percent of women said the ideal Valentine’s Day would be a family experience, while 62 percent of those surveyed said high prices and overwhelming crowds make them happy to stay home on the big night.

“Our core purpose is to bring all families together through food people love, and we really want to encourage more time spent together at home,” McAllister says.

That’s why, in 1984, Papa Murphy’s created the heart-shaped HeartBaker pizza, giving families a chance to celebrate the holiday of love while still keeping the night low-key and family-centered.

“We’re really encouraged that 90 percent of women surveyed said they would happy to spend Valentine’s Day at home with the kids, and that falls in line with why we developed that heart pizza,” McAllister says.

“It has a lot of tradition, and a lot of history with the families that love Papa Murphy’s,” she adds. “We feel like it’s a great product option for families that don’t want the high cost or time investment of going out for dinner, especially since Valentine’s Day doesn’t fall on a Friday or Saturday this year.”

Kimberly Myers, marketing director for zpizza, says the brand’s heart-shaped pizza—which is available upon request for all large and extra large pizzas—is one way it makes Valentine’s Day special for guests and families.

But it helps create some special advantages for the brand in terms of sales, too. When it debuted the pizza on a small scale last year, Myers says the brand saw impressive year-over-year sales increases, “and we’re anticipating the same this year.”

McAllister says the week of Valentine’s Day is historically one of the brand’s best-performing weeks of the entire year. “We expect it to again be a record week for us in 2013,” she adds.

By Mary Avant