Little Caesars Takes NFL’s ‘Official Pizza’ Title From Papa John’s

Looks like Little Caesars has surpassed Pizza Hut: The National Football League is launching Pizza Hut after almost five years.

Instead, Little Caesars was named the official pizza of the NFL in a new sponsorship deal, supplanting the Yum Brands YUM,
-0.16%
pizza chain, the NFL announced on Tuesday.

“We are thrilled to welcome Little Caesars to the NFL family,” said Renie Anderson, chief revenue officer and executive vice president of NFL Partnerships. “With a focus on quality and convenience, Little Caesars delivers unparalleled value to our fans, and we look forward to working together to positively impact communities across the United States.”

Little Caesars has been around since 1959 and is headquartered in Detroit, Michigan.

“This partnership aims to enhance game day enjoyment by bringing the quality and convenience that Little Caesars is known for to NFL fans across the country,” Little Caesars CEO Dave Scrivano said in the release. Press. “And because we are the value leader in the pizza industry, hungry fans can enjoy weekly meals at a very affordable price during a time when food prices are on the rise.”

According to the Pizza Power Report 2020, Little Caesars is the third largest pizza chain in the United States by total sales, behind Domino’s DPZ and Pizza Hut.

Financial terms of the deal were not announced, and the NFL and Little Caesars were not immediately available to comment on this story. But partnership deals with the NFL typically last three to seven years and cost small businesses at least $10 million a year, sports partnership consultancy IEG told CNBC. But larger companies could pay more than $200 million a year. Anheuser-Busch BUD,
-1.55%
reportedly paid the NFL more than $250 million a year for official soda beer and water rights, while Diageo DEO,
-2.26%
is estimated to pay $30 million a year to be the official hard liquor of the NFL.

This partnership agreement gives Little Caesars exclusive marketing rights as the official pizza of NFL games on television and at live events. Little Caesars may also use the NFL mark on its packaging and on its social media platforms such as Snap SNAP,
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and Twitter TWTR,
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under the agreement.

And the NFL’s new pizza deal caused a lot of ink to flow on Twitter on Tuesday, leading the “Little Caesars” all the rage in the United States. The pizza chain also tweeted “time to start practicing our touchdown dance” from its official account.

The NFL and other sports organizations are no strangers to deals like this, of course. Many brands want a piece of the NFL pie, so companies pay to become “the NFL __ official” in an effort to gain credibility by associating with the league. The biggest football league in the world has an official wine, for example (E. & J. Gallo Winery); an official home improvement store (Lowe’s LOW,
-1.87%
); and official headphones and headset (Bose).

NFL analyst Mike Florio suggested that this latest NFL pizza sponsorship was mostly about which company was willing to make the best offer. After all, before Little Caesars and Pizza Hut became the “official pizza” of the football league, Papa John’s PZZA,
+0.28%
held this title.

“Four years ago, Pizza Hut replaced Papa John’s,” Florio writes. “Now Little Caesars is stepping up with a better deal than Pizza Hut was willing to make.”

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