Domino's is using hall of fame quarterback Jim Kelly to promote the brand's gift car promotionSuper Bowl Sunday will be the most competitive day of the year not only for the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos, but also for Pizza Hut, Domino’s Pizza and Papa John’s, all of which launched major promotions this week.

Louisville, Ky.-based Papa John’s, the official sponsor of the National Football League and Super Bowl XLVIII, is the only chain allowed to use the trademarks for Sunday’s championship game in its promotions and advertising, though Pizza Hut and Domino’s still are running campaigns centered on “the big game.”


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The Super Bowl is arguably the largest marketing event every year in the United States on television and social media. According to Nielsen, last year’s Super Bowl drew more than 108 million viewers in more than 53 million households.

A separate report from SocialGuide found that 5.3 million people sent out more than 26 million tweets during last year’s broadcast.

Nielsen also noted in a separate report that consumers who responded to the firm’s survey indicated a greater preference for pizza and Buffalo wings at their Super Bowl parties this year, knocking veggie trays and cheese-and-cracker trays out of the top five choices.

Looking to capitalize on the millions of potential media impressions and pizza sales, the three largest pizza brands have fielded the following campaigns.

Papa John's: Playing with Peyton

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The Super Bowl matchup has proved favorable to Papa John’s, which, in addition to being the sponsor of the NFL since 2010, also is the official pizza sponsor for the Seahawks and the Broncos, the latter of which features Papa John’s spokesman and franchisee Peyton Manning at quarterback.

“2014 marks the first time that two Papa John’s-sponsored teams are playing against each other in the Super Bowl,” chief marketing officer Bob Kraut said in a statement. “With pizza as a go-to food for Super Bowl parties throughout the country, this is a great time to celebrate with Papa John’s pizza and unveil new menu offerings with unique deals for football fans.”

The chain of more than 3,200 North American locations debuted its “Most Valuable Pizza” promotion Tuesday, in which fans can log on to PapaJohnsMVP.com to vote for either pepperoni or cheese as the “most valuable” pizza flavor, as well as vote between the Chipotle Chicken and Bacon pizza and the new Double Cheeseburger pizza in the “One to Watch” category.

The first 1,000 fans to have voted each day this week received a promo code redeemable for a free two-liter bottle of Pepsi with the purchase of a $10 order.

Papa John’s is also offering free slices of the Double Cheeseburger pizza through Saturday in New York’s Times Square, which has been renamed Super Bowl Boulevard and features events and branding from the NFL and several advertisers.

Separately, the chain will give away a free pizza to any fan placing an order of at least $15 through Super Bowl Sunday. Customers will receive a code for a large pizza with up to three toppings on their next order, beginning Feb. 3.

Papa John’s commercial to promote the giveaway features Manning with founder and chief executive John Schnatter, as well as another NFL legend, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana.

Pizza Hut: Going for greatness

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While Pizza Hut is not an official NFL sponsor, the brand will still partner with NFL quarterback Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers to cast a real fan in its new “Go For Greatness” marketing campaign, which promotes its re-launched Hand-Tossed Pizza.

This week, Pizza Hut hosted live auditions for fans to show off some “one-of-a-kind greatness” for a chance to appear in a commercial on Sunday before the Super Bowl kicks off. The auditions were held on Super Bowl Boulevard in New York, where Newton helped judge the talent and pro-football broadcaster Trey Wingo was the emcee.

The fan-centric ad will join several “Go For Greatness” commercials Pizza Hut already has produced and posted to its YouTube page, which feature such feats of greatness as a man leaping out of the ocean using a water jetpack and an elderly woman playing a drum solo.

Plano, Texas-based Pizza Hut, which has more than 7,750 locations in the United States, will offer samples of its new Hand-Tossed Pizza at Super Bowl Boulevard as well. The pizza features a lighter crust brushed with buttery garlic flavor and topped with mozzarella cheese.

“We looked through hundreds of thousands of videos on YouTube to find what going for greatness really means, and truthfully that, and other examples, was the inspiration to create what we think is the best-tasting hand-tossed pizza in the category,” senior director of marketing Jared Drinkwater said in a statement. “Today’s consumers are expecting new and better experiences from their food, and we will push that like never before.”

Domino's Pizza: 'Big-event' giveaway

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Domino’s Pizza has been cagy in its marketing plans for Super Bowl Sunday. The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based brand of nearly 5,000 pizza restaurants in the United States is set to announce a “landmark sponsorship” of “Sunday’s big event,” though Domino’s gave very few indications that the event is a football game.

The only definite nod to football is the inclusion of Jim Kelly, who started at quarterback for the Buffalo Bills in four Super Bowls, as spokesman for Domino’s promotion, which is offering 100 Domino’s gift cards to fans who answer poll questions on the brand’s Facebook page.

In a statement, Domino’s was vague on details, saying Kelly “will help Domino’s unveil the unprecedented sponsorship — one that directly ties in with Sunday’s tradition that, year-in and year-out, captivates those around the world who follow the action — as well as celebrate or lament the outcome.”

Domino’s also said that everyone who attends the event on Sunday would receive a free Handmade Pan Pizza.

“We are so excited to announce this landmark sponsorship on Friday,” chief marketing officer Russell Weiner said in a statement. “We are as intrigued as the rest of the world for the big event, and once the outcome is decided, we are committed to making sure everyone in attendance gets the chance to enjoy a free Handmade Pan Pizza.”

Contact Mark Brandau at mark.brandau@penton.com
Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_from_NRN