The NFL is taking a bite out of Pizza Hut, naming the chain as its official pizza sponsor just one day after longtime sponsor Papa John's announced it would be prematurely ending its deal with the league, ESPN reports.
"The NFL and Papa John's have made a mutual decision to shift from their official league sponsorship to a focus on partnerships with 22 local NFL teams, presence in broadcast and digital media, and key personalities in the sport," the league and company said Tuesday in a joint statement.
The Papa John's deal was contracted to run through the 2020 season while the new Pizza Hut deal reportedly runs through the 2021 season. A source told CNN that the Pizza Hut deal is worth more than the Papa John's deal and gives the company several exclusive marketing rights.
"The NFL and pizza appeal to the same demographic, which is everyone," said Renie Anderson, the NFL's senior vice president of partnership and sponsorship management. "Fans watch our game and they do it around a pizza box. That's why it's one of the most important categories in sports sponsorship."
Pizza Hut will step up to the plate at this year's NFL draft, which will take place in April at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The company's chief marketing officer, Zipporah Allen, shared that Pizza Hut will introduce customers to the deal with new products, packaging and Pizza Hut's loyalty program.
"We know many of our fans enjoy pizza while watching NFL games and we are thrilled to have Pizza Hut, an industry leader and one of America's favorite brands, as an official league sponsor," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "With a focus on family, friends and fun, Pizza Hut has the creativity we are looking for in a partner and we look forward to working together with them to make the at-home NFL experience more exciting than ever for our fans."
Papa John's will focus on its partnerships with individual teams.
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