I live in Chicago and for the past few weeks, the city has been captivated by the Stanley Cup playoffs and the chance for our beloved Blackhawks to bring home the cup for the second year in a row. As of this posting (and a nail-biting game 5), they’re still in the running but have to win the next two games in order to advance to the finals.
When it comes to sports, fans can get fanatical and Blackhawks fans are no exception. From a rabbit’s foot to mismatched socks to a lucky hat, sports fans have certain rituals they put themselves through in hopes of some level of control over the outcome of the game. My son is no exception. He has a “lucky” Blackhawks jersey that he refuses to wash until the season is over.
Whether it’s the Stanley Cup Playoffs or March Madness or the Super Bowl, another game time ritual is clearly pizza delivery. Something about greasy food and cold beverages creates a mandatory festive, sports-viewing atmosphere. According to Time.com, the Domino’s chain sells some 11 million slices on the day of the Super Bowl. Domino’s also focused on March Madness, offering 50% off prices on all pizzas ordered online for the duration of the tournament. Extended events, like March Madness or the Stanley Cup playoffs, are fantastic opportunities for marketers to connect with consumers and Domino’s does an admirable job of capitalizing on these seasonal opportunities.
My son, who is just home from his freshman year at college, has been having regular gatherings in our home for his buddies to watch the Blackhawks games. They have been ordering in pizza for the games and I was assuming that they order Domino’s, but the stack of empty pizza boxes the morning after each game proves otherwise. Papa John’s is the pizza of choice in suburban Chicago. I was curious about this, so I asked why. Turns out Papa John’s has a “Fan Frenzy” special, which is a large 3-topping pizza for $9.99. They also have a running special on days when the Chicago Cubs are playing – “Northsiders score 3, get one for free”, which means if you order one pizza you get a second one (of lesser or equal value) for free. Doesn’t matter who wins the game, they just want the Cubs to score 3 runs and fans to order pizza. Papa John’s current TV ad reaches out to fans of all Chicago sports teams “every Chicago fan deserves a better pizza” – explains the deal and the promo code – and “better ingredients, better pizza, Papa John’s” is the tag. The clear focus on the local market and the support of the teams, win or lose, is an appealing message that matches the values of many fans.
In my last book, Brand Rituals™: How Successful Brands Bond with Customers for Life, the final stretch of the process of building a brand ritual is the ability to build a bond by aligning with your customer’s values. In a cluttered category, like pizza delivery, it’s easy to focus on price and not on values but smart marketers realize you need to focus on both in order to create a brand ritual. Kudos to Papa John’s for getting it right in Chicago. And their first quarter results prove they are winning across North America with comparable sales increases of 9.6%. Now let’s hope the Blackhawks win the next two games and move on to the finals, but regardless, the Papa John’s delivery guy will popular in my home. Let’s Go Hawks!