What is in this article?:
- Papa John's looks to boost brand with new ad agency
- Searching for even more
The pizza chain aims to leverage the momentum gained over the past few years with its positioning and online ordering.
Papa John’s International said Friday that it is searching for a new national advertising agency of record, as ZGroup, a division of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based Zimmerman Advertising has chosen not to defend the account now up for agency review.
“As the recognized industry leader in customer happiness and the leader in digital ordering, Papa John’s has built an incredible amount of momentum over the past few years,” John Schnatter, Papa John’s founder and chief executive, said in a statement. “We feel the timing is right to seek an agency partner that can capitalize on that momentum and help advance our brand to the next level through fresh thinking, brand messaging and more innovative, integrated marketing.”
Zimmerman held the Papa John’s account for many years, and former Papa John’s chief marketing officer Andrew Varga left the Louisville, Ky.-based chain this past March to become Zimmerman’s president.
The review ostensibly is not a response to negative sales or ineffective marketing, as Papa John’s officials routinely credit marketing initiatives like the long-held practice of including Schnatter in commercials, the brand’s sponsorship of the National Football League, and digital ordering platforms like the Papa Rewards loyalty club for the chain’s success. A review of a brand’s creative agency commonly follows the hiring of a new marketing leader, and Papa John’s named former Arby’s senior vice president Bob Kraut as the new chief marketing officer for the pizza chain on Oct. 10.
Launching an agency review now shows that Papa John’s is looking to reinvest in its branding from a position of strength and perhaps widen its lead on some marketing strategies, said Arjun Sen, president and founder of Centennial, Colo.-based brand strategy firm Zen Mango.
“I heard about the agency search, and I was very excited: Not too many brands invest in enhancing the brand when things are going great,” Sen said. “This is the opposite of what Domino’s did years ago, when they saw their core equity eroding and jumped into new branding. This is Papa John’s investing in the brand and an effort to go from great to greater.”
He noted that the four major pizza chains have been trying to consolidate their positions in the marketplace further, whether it is Domino’s for its delivery heritage, Pizza Hut for its signature pizzas, or Little Caesars on low price points.
“Papa John’s gave us a few things: a focus on quality, without which the category might have gone in a fast-food direction, and online ordering after that,” Sen said. “The pizza category from time to time goes into complete price war mode, and they lose direction. I would be excited that a brand like Papa John’s reinvents itself now, because it tells me they’re looking at more than a price war.”