- Yum Brands' Pizza Hut is teaming up with Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who will serve as ambassador of the Pizza Hut "Doorbell Dance" campaign around the 2018 NFL Draft, per news made available to Marketing Dive. Smith-Schuster will also be a social media correspondent for the NFL Draft's red carpet events.
- In a video spot, Smith-Schuster shows off his celebratory dances when the doorbell rings and the pizza arrives. He calls on fans to submit their best doorbell dances on Instagram from April 26-28 using the hashtags #PizzaHut and #sweepstakes and tagging @PizzaHut. Doing so will enter them for a chance to win a trip to a regular season NFL game. Onsite at the draft in Arlington, Texas, Pizza Hut is hosting an experience where fans can showcase and record their doorbell dance in a 360-degree camera, compete in a delivery shuttle obstacle course and sample free pizza.
- Pizza Hut will recognize the 78th pick in the draft — the 14th pick in the third round, or the "Pi Pick" — with free pizza for one year, an invitation to a pizza party in the city that selects him, retro brand swag, gift cards for teammates and more. The chain is also offering an "NFL Draft Box" promotion with two medium pizzas, wings and breadsticks during the draft.
Pizza Hut is looking to make a strong impression in its first campaign as the official pizza sponsor of the NFL, having taken over the role after the league's longtime brand partner Papa John's pulled out in February amid declining sales. Pizza Hut's effort steps beyond the traditional TV spot to tap into a slate of trendy marketing tactics, with live activations leveraging 360-degree camera technology, social media broadcasts with Smith-Schuster and sourcing fans for user-generated content via an Instagram contest.
Encouraging people to share their take on touchdown dances and on-field celebrations has proved a popular — if not terribly original — strategy for brands, including M&M's, which ran a similar social media contest around this year's Super Bowl. Over the past several months, Pizza Hut has been gearing up for the extra exposure that its NFL sponsorship will generate, including by investing millions in upgraded equipment, technology and fresh advertising strategies.
The brand, which recently lost its spot as the highest-selling pizza chain to rival Domino's, might be able to attract some serious eyeballs for its debut effort given the popularity of the NFL Draft. Last year's draft drew 4.6 million viewers combined for ESPN and the NFL Network, a 6% increase over the previous year and the second-largest viewership ever, according to CBS News. By contrast, viewership of NFL games has declined over the past few years, dropping nearly 10% last season, according to Nielsen data cited by Sports Illustrated. This year's Super Bowl ratings were the lowest since 2009.