Box Score: Pizza Hot Stays Hot, Signs New Multi-Year Alliance With NCAA
Wednesday, July 11, 2018 at 10:27PM in College, March Madness, NCAA, Pizza Hut, college, sports marketing

NYSJ Sports-Entertainment Business News Service

July 11, 2018: The NCAA likes its pizza, and especially likes pizza delivered to fans, student-athletes and alumni from Pizza Hut, signing a multi-year pact that maintains the brand's status as the official pizza of the NCAA.

Pizza Hut signed with the NCAA as a corporate sponsor in November 2016, enabling it to activate around all 90 NCAA championships each year.

The new pact runs through the 2020-2021 academic year. Financial terms were not released.

During March Madness in 2017 and 2018, Pizza Hut incorporated Pie Top shoes into its marketing efforts, enabling wearers to order pies with Bluetooth technology that links the shoe to the user’s phone and Pie Tops app.

Earlier this year, Pizza Hut became the official pizza partner for the NFL, replacing Papa John's in the category and becoming the only brand to have national partnerships with both the NCAA and NFL.

Pizza Hut said it would continue to support intercollegiate athletics and student-athlete achievements through marketing programs and initiatives at multiple NCAA championships.

"The excitement and entertainment of enjoying live sports with friends and family is a time-honored tradition, and Pizza Hut aligns naturally with these experiences," Zipporah Allen, CMO for Pizza Hut, U.S, said in a statement.

"Pizza and sports are a perfect match. From the Men's Final Four and College World Series, to the NFL Draft and Super Bowl, we're looking forward to feeding the passion and excitement of all sports fans at every level."

The partnership provides Pizza Hut the ability to use official NCAA marks and media, as well as the opportunity activate at official NCAA events, including NCAA March Madness, College World Series and Frozen Four.

The partnership was facilitated through CBS Sports and Turner, which manage and collaborate on the NCAA's corporate champion and partner program.

According to Ellen Lucey, director of championships and alliances for the NCAA, ”We've seen some highlight-reel worthy performances from Pizza Hut over the past few years, everything from the pizza ordering Pie Tops to the Pizza Hut Fan Challenge at many of our championships.

“We can't imagine a partner who is more committed to bringing additional excitement and entertainment to NCAA fans.”

Over the past year, Pizza Hut has rolled out a new loyalty program, Hut Rewards; and worked to improve technology and equipment.

Pizza Hut said it has spent more than two years looking at the entire delivery ecosystem, "from the box, to the pouch, to delivery dispatch at the restaurant."

Pizza Hut also said it is in the process of “redesigning several of its 6,300 dine-in and delivery/carryout locations in an effort better service customers and efficiency back of house.”

“We can't imagine a partner who is more committed to bringing additional excitement and entertainment to NCAA fans than Pizza Hut.”

The recently released 2018 American Customer Satisfaction Index report saw Pizza Hut tied with Papa John’s for the top spot among national pizza chains.

However, according to ACSI, Papa John’s index dropped 2% versus 2017 while Pizza Hut rose 5% “for the biggest ACSI gain in the industry — likely the result of a new rewards program, and investments in equipment, technology, and marketing,” according to the ACSI.

Domino’s was third, Little Caesars fourth.

"We are extremely proud to be ranked No. 1 in customer satisfaction, as it is a testament to the commitment that our 120,000 team members show to our customers every day," Nicolas Burquier, chief customer and operations officer for Pizza Hut, said in a statement.

"We re-trained all of our employees in the fall, and also introduced an oven-hot delivery system that keeps our pizzas hotter while adding thousands of drivers to enable our speed of service to be faster. It's great to know that customers are noticing and we are constantly engaging with our teams to make sure their satisfaction only continues," said Burquier.

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