(Continued from page 1)

The pizza segment — comprised in BrandIndex’s research of Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Papa John’s and Little Caesars — started the measurement period well below other categories, with an average value score of 10.8 on July 1. By comparison, hamburgers, Mexican and chicken began the study with value scores of 17.7, 16.2 and 14.8, respectively.

Yet value scores for pizza players collectively climbed steadily through the fall, reaching 15.6 several days in November, before ending at 15.0 on Nov. 29. Not coincidentally, the segment improved dramatically during football season, when pizza brands increase their spending for national-TV advertising, Marzilli said.

Watch Pizza Hut's ad for its $10 any-size pizza

“It’s a perfect match during football season, because pizza brands are hitting their target audience during a prime opportunity, and pizza companies deliver while people watch games from home,” Marzilli said. “The audience is tuned-in, available and hungry.”

The four brands in the category all improved their individual value scores during the five-month period, he added, with Pizza Hut finishing with the highest single score, followed by Little Caesars, which had the biggest improvement.

Those chains all have had aggressive deals in their advertising this year, including during the fall. Plano, Texas-based Pizza Hut promoted a $10 any-size, any-toppings deal for its traditional pizzas in addition to TV spots for its 3-Cheese Stuffed Crust pizza. Little Caesars’ commercials in October advertised its two low-price pizzas, the $5 Hot-N-Ready and the $8 Deep! Deep! Dish. The Detroit-based chain also is the title sponsor of a college football bowl game, the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.

Watch Domino's ad for its online-ordering platform

While Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Domino’s Pizza advertised its new “pizza profile” features of its online-ordering platform during the fall, its commercials nonetheless include the $5.99 price point for two medium, two-topping pizzas.

Louisville, Ky.-based Papa John’s, the official pizza sponsor of the National Football League, used its partnership with the NFL not only for branding purposes but also to promote aggressive discounts. The Thursday Night Fan Deal featured a new promotion for each week’s broadcast of Thursday Night Football on the NFL Network. The brand also shot several more commercials with its spokesman and Denver-area franchisee Peyton Manning.