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Pizza Hut readies its 1st NFL campaign

The chain is debuting the national TV campaign along with a new augmented reality game.
Photograph courtesy of Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut is kicking off its new NFL sponsorship this week as the league’s regular season starts, debuting its first national television campaign featuring Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster.

The Plano, Texas-based pizza chain is also planning numerous other marketing strategies, including weekly prizes, a loyalty app and special-edition NFL boxes featuring all 32 teams that, when paired with a new augmented reality game, will enable them to play cornhole.

Pizza Hut took over the NFL sponsorship from Papa John’s earlier this year, putting the company front and center in front of millions of football viewers every week.

That makes the campaign especially important for the chain, which operates more than 7,500 locations in the U.S. and recently lost its status as the country’s largest domestic pizza concept to rival Domino’s.

The company also has some partnerships with individual teams including the Seattle Seahawks, Steelers, Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams.

“Pizza has the power to bring sports fans together and for years, Pizza Hut has served as a gameday centerpiece in living rooms across the country,” Marianne Radley, chief brand officer for Pizza Hut in the U.S., said in a statement. “Now, as official pizza sponsor of the NFL, we’re going to celebrate football fans all season long.”

The company’s NFL campaign comes along with a new digital platform within its Hut Rewards loyalty program called Game Plan that enables customers to get special deals, receive kickoff reminders for their favorite team and enter to win a weekly prize.

Customers who sign up for the service are entered to win a Homegating Kickoff Kit in week one that includes a Bose speaker, a hat, a $100 Pizza Hut gift card and a $50 NFL Shop gift card.

Pizza Hut is also introducing a new app, Beanbag Blitz, that recreates the classic cornhole game. The app includes an augmented reality component that enables users to line the camera up with a special edition box.

Teams can then use the app to toss beanbags onto the virtual cornhole board with a flick of the finger.

The ads featuring Smith-Schuster and Brown follow the chain's ad called “Doorbell Dance” during the NFL draft last spring.

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