Papa John's fantasy football helmet

We all know who and what Papa John’s is; a well-known pizza chain characterized by affordable prices and faced by the guy everyone either loves or loves to hate, Papa John himself (his name is actually John Schnatter). Papa John’s has franchise locations all over the country, each with its own specific market needs. Transformation Marketing has been working with Papa John’s locally for the past several years, but it wasn’t until 2015 we created the fantasy football platform.

Papa John’s holds a national NFL sponsorship, but it hasn’t held the same marketing power in Nebraska as other states, as we are a state without a professional NFL team. Our challenge with Papa John’s was to leverage both the love of NFL and the national sponsorship while making a local connection that would increase engagement, brand awareness, and sales.

Knowing that fantasy football players mirror our core customer profile, we felt that localizing a fantasy football platform would be well-received. We wanted to use the desire to play, the group participation element, and the shared demographic to promote Papa John’s through the shared commonalities. What would make fantasy football users choose the Papa John’s platform over or in addition to the platform they’ve become accustomed to? Free pizza, duh.

To promote the platform’s second year in 2016, we wanted to utilize our tried and true marketing channels; TV, social media, etc. We also added local celebrity endorsements by Gary Greenwood and Crash Davis from Lincoln and Omaha radio stations, as well as the previous year’s fantasy football winner. We featured these celebrities and winner in TV commercials, online videos, and video outtakes on social media.

We added 4 new marketing channels to this campaign- mobile marketing, Snapchat, radio, and video marketing. Snapchat was added to the strategy to bring in college/young adult players to support a growing consumer base of our downtown Lincoln campus store. Mobile was added to build awareness of the platform by targeting local sports events in a radius within our delivery zones. Radio was run on both Froggy 98 in Lincoln with the Gary Greenwood endorsement and The Keg in Omaha with the Crash Davis endorsement. These endorsements further solidified our local marketing approach. They let us leverage their loyal fan base to sign up for fantasy football and ultimately become fans of Papa John’s. Lastly, we deployed our own local weekly video series with weekly player updates and commentary for our fantasy players. We left nothing out when looking for the full experience of fantasy football!

By driving consumers to our fantasy football platform, we were able to capture user data, market to them via email marketing deployed within the platform, advertise our products with online ads, give away products to reward them, and expose them to new products Papa John’s was offering.


Results included:

  • Increased fantasy football player pool of 25%.
  • Increased Facebook by 1,340 fans
  • 6,459 views on Snapchat
  • 187,854 reached using social ads on Facebook
  • 16,050 video views on Facebook
  • First email sent out of the season received a 25% open rate and a 28% click through rate.


Last, but certainly not least, Lincoln stores saw an increase in sales over the previous year 17 out of 20 weeks during football season. Omaha stores saw an increase during 19 out of 20 weeks compared to the previous year. In Lincoln and Omaha both, 10 of those 20 weeks saw double-digit percentage growth in sales.

We were more than pleased with the results of the Papa John’s Fantasy Football campaign in 2016. Papa John’s is a good example of the diverse marketing needs of huge, global brands. It’s not enough to advertise at a national level; area-tailored, personalized, local marketing remains invaluable to the brand as a whole. Better ingredients, better marketing, Papa John’s.

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