Little Caesars is the latest chain to take the snap as the official pizza sponsor of the National Football League.
The company announced the agreement today, which includes a set of exclusive marketing rights, social media games, new products, new packaging and promotions that will be announced prior to the start of the 2022 season and continue throughout the course of the multi-year sponsorship .
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
The company, coming off the heels of a partnership with The Batman movie, called the NFL deal one of its “highest-profile partnerships to date,” adding it represents a “pivotal moment” for the brand as it experiences material growth.
The chain generated about $4.2 billion in sales in 2021, according to Technomic data, making it the third highest pizza chain by sales behind Domino’s and Pizza Hut, and just ahead of Papa John’s $3.6 billion.
CEO Dave Scrivano recently said 2021 was a record-setting sales year for the chain, buoyed by its signature $5.55 Hot-N-Ready pizza and added conveniences like delivery and the Pizza Portal pickup option. Those sales have translated to unit growth, including a recent announcement that the company is expected to double its rate of new store commitments this year.
“Now is the right time for this deal because we are seeing incredible momentum and increased demand for the value and convenience Little Caesars offers,” said Jill Proctor, director of strategic communications and media relations. “Delicious-tasting, high-quality pizza can be found at an extreme value, even given the current economic climate. This partnership will amplify that message to the perfect fanbase–hungry football fans who are looking to get their pizzas quickly and easily and at the best value.”
In a statement, Scrivano added that Little Caesars offers fans “a very affordable price during a time when food prices are on the rise.”
Notably, Little Caesars’ NFL sponsorship deal follows Pizza Hut’s sponsorship deal with the league, which began in 2018 and ended last year. Pizza Hut claimed its sponsorship generated traffic, awareness and digital sales, though overall sales didn’t quite take off during this timeframe.
Prior to Pizza Hut, Papa John’s was the league’s sponsor for eight years, but that agreement ended mutually shortly after former CEO John Schnatter tied NFL player protests to the company’s declining sales.
That said, there is plenty of potential here as Little Caesars takes over. For starters, nearly 40% of Americans who watch football said they like to eat pizza while they’re doing so.
Little Caesars’ mere brand presence throughout the season will attract a lot of attention from those looking to consume such a meal. The NFL averaged 17.1 million television viewers in 2021–its highest average since 2015. In fact, professional football is the most popular sport to watch in the US by far, with 51% of Americans claiming to be fans according to an Ipsos poll. No other sport generated higher than 40% in the poll. Overall, the NFL counts about 190 million fans domestically.
“With the NFL’s over 100 million fans, we’re confident this partnership will reinforce the existing love for the Little Caesars brand, particularly at the key moment of game time meals,” Proctor said.
In addition to the marketing and promotional components included in the deal, Little Caesars is also bringing its Love Kitchen to NFL cities throughout the year. The Little Caesars Love Kitchen has served nearly 4 million homeless and hungry North Americans since 1985. The company said its partnership with the NFL will help provide post-event community support, including around the 2024 NFL Draft, which will be held in Little Caesars’ hometown of Detroit.
“We’re really looking forward to the opportunity to build on our decades-long charitable giving initiative by partnering with the NFL to do even more,” Proctor said. “We’ll be able to serve pizza to people in need in NFL event cities during the upcoming season and beyond.”