- Papa John's is promoting the launch of its jumbo-size Shaq-A-Roni pizza with an augmented reality (AR) lens on Snapchat, per an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer.
- The extra-large pizza was inspired by Shaquille O'Neal, the NBA Hall of Famer who is a company board member, franchise owner and brand spokesperson. Snapchat users can see the 3D content by scanning a Papa John's pizza box with their smartphone cameras. The pizza chain next month will release additional AR content on its social channels.
- For every Shaq-A-Roni pizza Papa John's sells by Aug. 23, the company will donate $1 to the Papa John’s Foundation for Building Community. The charity group supports the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and other social causes.
Papa John's promotion for the Shaq-A-Roni pizza aims to engage customers with an immersive branded experience on Snapchat, the image-messaging app that's popular with young adults and teens.
The new XL menu offering and social media-focused campaign are another indication that O'Neal has become a central pillar of Papa John's marketing strategy after its founder and namesake John Schnatter resigned two years ago after he used a racial slur on a conference call. The campaign also includes a TV spot where O'Neal explains that he wanted to deliver the new pizzas in-person, but is instead reaching customers via video conferencing due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Adweek. Other recent marketing pushes that featured O'Neal included last month's release of a Papa John's sticker pack on GIF-sharing platform Giphy to publicize a new menu item.
The company's previous $80 million investment toward marketing, brand initiatives and scheduled financial assistance to domestic franchisees is paying off even during the novel coronavirus pandemic, and could have contributed to the chain's robust same-store sales. Prior to this investment, same-store sales were down 5.7% in Q2 2019. Papa John's reported Tuesday that same-store sales rose 28% at its North American restaurants for the second quarter despite the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to a press release emailed to Restaurant Dive. Its international restaurants saw a same-store sales boost of 5.3% for the period. Nearly all of its American restaurants have reopened, the company reported.
By offering to donate to the Papa John’s Foundation for Building Community for each Shaq-A-Roni order, the pizza chain aims to appeal to younger consumers who tend to favor brands that support causes. Almost two-thirds (64%) of consumers said they will buy from or boycott a brand based on its social or political positions, according to Edelman's Earned Brand study. Cause-driven efforts this year have focused on COVID-19 relief, support for racial equality, corporate sponsorship of Pride events and boycotts of social media amid concerns about hate speech.
Papa John's has been more active on Snapchat as part of its turnaround plan, and has seen measurable results from its campaigns. For a Valentine's Day promotion last year, more than 25% of Snapchat users who swiped up on a special AR lens ordered its heart-shaped pizza. The campaign also led to a 6% lift in ad awareness among Papa John's customers. The success of that effort led Papa John's to return with another AR-based promotion for Valentine's Day this year.