It's the biggest pizza day of the year, but no pizza chain wants to spend top dollar for TV advertisements during the Super Bowl. Instead, companies have other plans to bring customers to their stores.
— Danni Santana
The biggest battle on Super Bowl Sunday won’t involve the New England Patriots or the Los Angeles Rams. It actually pits the country’s largest pizza chains against each other in a war for order counts.
Pizza Hut, the National Football League’s official sponsor, and Domino’s each expect to sell about 2 million pizzas on February 3. For Domino’s, the figure represents a 40 percent jump in pizza pies sold compared to a typical Sunday.
Market research firm YouGov estimates that 37 percent of Americans will eat pizza during the Super Bowl, along with chicken wings (32 percent), which most chains and pizzerias additionally offer.
However, the growing cost of television advertisements have resulted in a slowdown in ad dollars spent both in the lead up to the game and during the contest, forcing chains to advertise during pregame shows or get creative. CBS is reportedly charging companies $5.25 million for 30-second TV spots during the Super Bowl, $1 million more than businesses paid in 2014, according to CNBC.
Domino’s and Pizza Hut, along with rivals Little Caesar’s and Papa John’s (the latter the NFL’s former sponsor) have made little noise about advertising plans ahead of the event. Overall, television ads for the Super Bowl have slowed down considerably as well this year, compared to the last five years, with fewer pre-releases or commercial teasers aired in the weeks leading up to the game, according to iSpot.tv.
Commercial Pre-Release and Teaser Spending by Brands
The numbers provided above by iSpot.tv are current as of Jan. 30.
Pizza Hut Beer and Discounts
The NFL’s official pizza sponsor will not be running ads during the Super Bowl, opting to put all of its efforts into reaching its goal of 2 million pizzas sold.
The two ads the YUM! Brands’ subsidiary will run will be before the game, from its Abe Lincoln campaign featuring its $5 lineup. That offering, along with Pizza Hut’s staple large two-topping pizza for $7.99 deal, are the only food promotions the company will run on Sunday.
“There isn’t one specific measure of success for us, but it is our busiest day of the year,” said a Pizza Hut spokesperson. “We’ve got more than 150,000 Pizza Hut team members that have been training for this day.”
Beer is also on the menu at more Pizza Hut locations in time for the game. The company said it would expand its beer delivery program to 1,000 restaurants by the summer earlier this month, including 300 additional locations across the Midwest and Southeast in time for the Super Bowl.
“We want to be the one-stop-shop for our fans, and think that the convenience factor ahead of the game in our current and recently expanded markets with beer delivery will only enhance their Super Bowl Sunday experience,” the spokesperson said.
Pizza Hut rewards members ordering the day of the game will also receive 20 percent discounts on NFL team apparel.
Domino’s Rewards Program
Domino’s is planning to give away 10 rewards points for every pizza customers eat between Feb. 2 and the end of April. This includes local pizzerias and chains, not just its own pizza. Ordering six pies over the 12-week period will earn customers one free medium two-topping pizza, according to Domino’s.
Customers are required to sign up for its Piece of the Pie rewards program and scan a picture of the meal. To market the promotion, Domino’s CEO Richard Allison will appear in a new TV commercial shot in a local Atlanta pizzeria, Antico Pizza.
“We knew that filming this commercial in a pizzeria that was clearly not Domino’s would really demonstrate our commitment to awarding points for all pizza,” said Kate Trumbull, Domino’s vice president of advertising.
Representing the little guy on Super Bowl Sunday is pizza delivery company, Slice. The startup caters to local shops and small chains by offering delivery and advertising for mom-and-pop stores.
In November, the company inked a deal with TripAdvisor to become the food and travel reviewer website’s only pizza delivery partner. The deal is intended to raise Slice’s brand awareness, leveraging TripAdvisor’s restaurant page visitor count of 200 million consumers worldwide.
The day of the Super Bowl, Slice is taking $7 off customers’ first orders via its mobile app at checkout. The offer, applicable to orders over $15, expires at midnight on Feb. 5. A Slice spokesperson said the company would distribute the promotion to customers in existing markers through paid digital ads. The campaign will also read “hut, hut, take a hike” in a direct shot at the NFL’s sponsor.
Slice is currently available in more than 2,800 U.S. cities, sporting over 11, 000 restaurant partners on its platform.
Editor’s Note: Both Papa John’s and Little Caesar’s failed to return requests for interview for this story. Neither company has released any details of Super Bowl plans publicly at the time this article was published.
Read Skift Table for Essential News on the Business of Restaurants
Subscribe to our daily newsletter to follow industry trends, creativity, and innovation as we help define the future of dining out.