Pizza Hut tapped as new NFL sponsor after Papa John’s fallout

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Yum! Brands’ Pizza Hut will be the new official pizza sponsor of the NFL.

The announcement comes a day after Papa John’s severed ties with the league to focus on deals with specific teams and players. In a joint statement, Papa John’s and the NFL said the decision was mutual.

“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,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday.

Pizza Hut’s partnership with the NFL will entail the league works closely with the pizza chain to facilitate local and exclusive deals with teams. It will include the collective use of all 32 team marks. The sponsorship will begin with the 2018 NFL Draft, which will be held near Pizza Hut’s headquarters in North Dallas.

“Pizza Hut has a history of bringing more entertaining food and experiences to the pizza occasion,” said Artie Starrs, the president of Pizza Hut’s U.S. division. “We have an unmatched ability to bring those fans closer to the sport thanks to the power of our 7,500 restaurants.”

Pizza Hut has been aggressively discounting its pizzas, rolling out contests and offering new rewards since the beginning of the year, hoping to grab market share from competitors. During the Super Bowl, for example, the chain said it would give away free medium two-topping pizzas to Hut Reward members if the record for the fastest touchdown was broken.

Pizza Hut was an early adopter of digital and mobile ordering but has struggled to compete with tech-savvy Domino’s.

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