SBD/October 24, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Crew F Oduro's Endorsement With Local Papa John's To Be Extended If Team Re-signs Him

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Oduro's pizza-eating goal celebration appeared on NBC's "The Tonight Show"
MLS Crew F Dominic Oduro could be in line for an extension of his endorsement deal with Papa John's of Central Ohio after garnering national attention last month for chomping on a slice of pizza during a goal celebration. Oduro, who leads the Crew in goals this season with 13, signed a one-year deal with the pizza chain earlier this year. His contract with the Crew is set to expire after this season, but Papa John’s of Central Ohio Dir of Marketing & Sales Elspeth Paige Sack said the partnership has been such a success that if the club re-signs him, the franchisee will too. Papa John’s of Central Ohio, which has 26 different locations, in February signed a corporate sponsorship deal with the Crew. Oduro piggybacked his way into the fold after professing his love for the company on social media once he found out about the team’s deal. Terms of the endorsement with Oduro were not disclosed, but he does collect a fee -- and free slices -- for his efforts. The partnership has seen the player partake in a number of different promotions, including a day in which he took a turn as a delivery driver. Perhaps the biggest effort was with the Crew Pie, which saw the company create a special, extra large cheese pizza deal that sold during the MLS season for $11, the same number Oduro wears. Papa John's said that particular activation has exceeded expectations, and eight-inch personal pizza sales at Crew Stadium are up double digits as well.

VIRAL CELEBRATION: For all the success of the deal's off-field activations, last month’s goal celebration almost certainly generated the most headlines. The meticulously planned stunt saw Oduro run to a Crew staff member after scoring in a Sept. 21 match against the Fire, grab a Papa John’s pizza box, take a bite out of a slice, then hand the box to a group of fans. Video of the celebration went viral, catching not only the attention of Papa John’s national marketing office, but also sports sites such as Deadspin and Yahoo. Jay Leno even used it as part of a skit on “The Tonight Show,” -- a fact that stunned Crew VP/Corporate Sponsorships Chris Previte. He said of finding out about the Leno segment, “I was floored -- in a good way. Obviously the partner was delighted, but this got national attention. It’s gotten some great kudos for them and what they have done with the relationship. So it’s been huge.” Oduro, who came up with the idea on his own, only went through with it after checking with his coach to make sure he would not be disciplined for it. He also checked with MLS officials to ensure he would not recieve a yellow card. He wanted the celebration to occur at home, but it took weeks to pull off after he developed a pattern of only scoring on the road. Oduro said he was so caught up in the game when he finally did score at home, he nearly forgot about the celebration.
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