Special Delivery: Pizza Hut Renews NCAA Deal Through '21
Pizza Hut has signed an extension that will take its NCAA partnership out to '21. Turner Sports and CBS, the NCAA’s rights holders, negotiated the deal with the Yum! Brands restaurant. Pizza Hut Chief Brand Officer Marianne Radley said the success of the first two years with the NCAA prompted the extension. Radley especially likes the almost year-round opportunities for the brand to activate against NCAA championships. From year one to year two of Pizza Hut’s sponsorship, the restaurant saw a 150% lift in engagements across its social-media platforms and other outlets. That is largely a result of Pizza Hut’s primary NCAA Tournament activation, the Pie Tops wearable technology that enables the user to press a button on the sneakers and order a pizza. But it is not a slam dunk that the Pie Tops will be back for year three, as Pizza Hut evaluates its strategy with a largely new marketing team in place. Radley was hired earlier this year and the brand also just announced the addition of GSD&M as its ad agency. CAA Sports consults with Pizza Hut on sports marketing strategy. G3 Sports & Entertainment works on sports activations and Zeno Group assists with PR. “Pie Tops has been really successful, but we’re always asking how we stay fresh and look for the next big thing,” said Radley, who ran track at Fordham and Clemson before embarking on a career in sports marketing. She spent 16 years at A-B before shifting to Monster and now Pizza Hut. “College athletics and supporting these athletes is part of the company’s core,” she said.