Papa John's announced last week in its fourth-quarter earnings call that its "Super Bowl XLVI Coin Toss Experience” resulted in a sizeable uptick in online orders.
The promotion offered a free large one-topping pizza and two-liter of Pepsi MAX to Papa Rewards members if online voters correctly “called” the Super Bowl coin toss.
Though executives declined to disclose numbers, they said the rise in online orders this year, helped by the Super Bowl promotion, has been significant.
"Obviously we finished a very thrilling Super Bowl promotion … and we saw that helped in a number of different ways," said Andrew M. Varga, CMO of Papa John's. He confirmed an increase in enrollment in the Papa Rewards program and said the company was "very, very thrilled" with the outcome.
John Schnatter, founder and CEO of the company, told investors that fourth-quarter revenues increased 6.8 percent over the fourth quarter of 2010. That included improvements in comparable sales of 1.7 percent for North America, and 5.2 percent in international markets.
Schnatter said the pizza company opened 237 net new units worldwide in 2011. "Our brand remains resilient, even in the face of what continues to be a challenging competitive environment,” he said.
"Quality always pays in the long run, and it's gratifying that our customers, even in this tough environment, recognize the better ingredients."
Schnatter said the company is experiencing unprecedented success in the U.S., especially when it comes to market share.
"The goose that laid the golden egg is the United States," he said. "America is having a great momentum and success for us right now."
Schnatter told investors that senior management is "spending a lot of time on the road" in an effort to win franchisees "over to the gospel of what makes Papa John's successful." Schnatter said that franchisees who do "things the Papa John's way, even in a very tough commodity market, are having a lot of success."
In the first two months of 2012, members of the company's senior staff visited around a dozen cities, said Anthony N. Thompson, executive vice president of North American Operations for the company.
"It's really important two-way communication,” he said. “We're helping bridge our national marketing strategy all the way down to the local level, and hearing directly from single-store operators [and] multiunit operators about what's going on in their specific region."
By Jan Fletcher