I’m trying to square Papa John’s logic that the furor around the NFL protests is driving down its sales (Pizza Hut says sales are great; we’re still waiting for Taco Town’s quarterly earnings call to see what they say)
Papa John’s certainly should have pull with the NFL; they are the league’s official pizza and their ongoing campaigns with retired NFL star Peyton Manning brings them even closer to the orbit of the football-watching public.
But Papa John’s doesn’t make it clear WHY sales are down? Are people boycotting sponsors too? While that is a usual tactic (to force corporations – in this case the NFL – to accede to a movement’s goals, it rarely has a material effect. And I had not previously seen any specific Papa John’s boycotts.
Ratings are down, yes; and some studies point to the protests as a partial reason. But overall TV viewership is down (+/- 5%) – and it is more significantly down as a whole than football. And is logical. People want to watch anything on their own schedule; live sports is one of the few things that people still make appointment viewing.
But that decline in viewership is unlikely to produce huge depression in the addressable audience.
Do the (small amount relatively speaking of) people who previously watched the NFL who have boycotted it also index high in Papa John’s customer base?
Or is it more likely that Papa Johns has fallen behind the innovations of its competitors Pizza Hut and Dominos? If we’re to take the pizzas on equal quality footing (I plead ignorance as a New Yorker; I do not wish to find out which is currently the best pizza of that dominant trio).
Dominos has taken a HBR case study approach to its advertising – eviscerating its past self to make its current version palatable. It is also known for being an innovator in technological developments – it’s the 10 year anniversary of None Pizza with Left Beef, after all.
Pizza Hut is in the midst of a major technological leap forward (or so it claims) through advanced heating mechanisms
Papa Johns, on the other hand, is known for its ubiquitous ads with Peyton Manning, who, again, is retired. No new advancements, save for limited edition topping styles. The pizza is the same. The tech is the same. The ordering is more or less the same.
While it is not like Papa Johns has avoided the tech revolution, they always seem a step behind. Is that the missing ingredient? I’m not sure, but it’s as plausible as (slightly) worse ratings.