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    Papa John's Turns to Value in New Marketing Campaign

  • The new ads spotlight $12.99 value meal deal.

    Ildar Sagdejev
    Papa John's is heading in a new marketing direction.

    During its fourth-quarter review, Papa John’s newly minted chief executive officer Steve Ritchie said much of the company’s “marketing has become predictable and lacks differentiation.” In response, the pizza brand, which reported same-store sales declines of 3.9 percent in the quarter, hired Laundry Service as its new creative agency of record in late October. On Monday (April 2), Papa John’s debuted the agency’s first campaign.

    The deal centers on value—a new long-term $12.99 meal offering that includes a large, one-topping pizza, choice of bread side, and a 2-liter drink.

    The creative spotlights how “12.99 seconds of better” translates to everyday activities. Countdown clock included.

    Check out the campaigns below.

    These depictions of “$12.99 seconds or better” feature entertaining depictions, such as cuddling with puppies and BMX trickery. The “better” reference, the company said, is a nod to the “Better Ingredients, Better Pizza” tagline Ritchie said was evolving into just a tagline.

    “However, over the last few years, consumers have viewed quality as simply part of our tagline without a real connection to our products,” Ritchie said in the call.

    In its efforts to revitalize marketing, Papa John’s hired Olson Engage as its new PR firm and tapped Brandon Rhoten as chief marketing officer. Ritchie said this would also include exploring opportunities to expand the company’s offerings with products that reflect its quality focus, including potentially added new entrees, desserts, and beverages.

    And he also hinted at upcoming value deals.

    “The research is clear, even consumers who prefer Papa John's often choose a competitor because we are perceived to be too expensive. We intend to provide everyday accessible value to our consumers in 2018,” Ritchie said.

    These spots will run across broadcast, cable, digital, and social channels, and are the first leg of a larger brand equity campaign that will be launching later this year.

    Papa John’s marketing is shifting in multiple ways, but vividly on the sports front. The company made headlines in February when it announced it was cutting ties with the National Football League—at least when it comes to an official perspective. The company and the NFL mutually agreed to end the chain’s official sponsorship, a role Pizza Hut now occupies.

    Papa John’s said it would instead refocus its marketing efforts into the 22 NFL teams the chain remains a sponsor of. Even so, Ritchie said it would retain “a significant presence on league broadcast and digital platforms, and on our relationships with many of the league’s most popular players and personalities.”

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