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How Papa John’s reinvented its brand for British pizza lovers

Papa John’s GB won the ‘Best Re-brand or Relaunch’ category at The Drum Marketing Awards Europe 2020. Here, the team behind the entry reveal the challenges faced and strategies used to deliver this successful project.

The challenge

Liz Williams became managing director of Papa John’s GB in September 2018, with Giles Codd joining as marketing director shortly after. One of the first tasks for our new marketing director was to reposition the business by targeting Genzennials based on their desires and need states.

A big challenge for the Papa John’s team was to work out a way to stand out in an overcrowded market against larger brands and aggregators with far deeper pockets. We needed to figure out how to spend our marketing budget in the smartest way to create as much noise as possible.

The strategy

The initial stages of the process included a rebrand including new logo, colour palette and tone of voice. A brand audit process was introduced and three key pillars were identified: Quality, Value and Buzz.

Once a very product led brand experience, The Papa John’s rebrand, launched with the ‘Pizza Loves’ campaign looked to create emotional connections by tapping into the thoughts and feelings that surround the eating experience.

Whatever the occasion, whatever the time, whatever your tastes, ‘Pizza loves to make your day better’. ’Pizza loves’ gave the brand a personality and voice to tell emotive stories about lifestyle, eating choices and target key pizza eating occasions within the calendar year.

The new look and feel for the brand was visually bold and dynamic, with exaggerated sharp angles and shapes to represent how the pizza is sliced. We wanted to create a sense of movement and fun in every piece of communication. Vibrant colour combinations were created to grab more attention online and to appeal to our younger target audience, while also representing the fresh ingredients from the product.

We created a more authentic approach to photography and video with it being less stylised and more authentic. Crumbs, sauce spills and half eaten slices created an honest, casual look and when capturing lifestyle moments the pizza is eaten without care of mess, in real life settings.

Two new agencies were brought onboard to deliver a single customer view and improve our ECRM strategy. This has helped influence our marketing channels through deeper customer insight

We overhauled our emails to include videos, countdown timers, hot-spots, and interactive content such as scratch to reveal. These emails reached record open rates for the company and saw attributable revenue of over £1million.

On social, our strategy for 2019 has been to create highly relevant content and experiment to constantly innovate. We moved on from just showcasing product to offer content that sparks conversations and engagement. Instagram stories have been a key part of the plan adding interactive video content. We also used Instagram stickers to highlight our summer delivery spots.

The campaign

For Christmas 2019 we created a full-colour illustrated ‘Where’s Wally?’ style pizza box which was turned into our first fully animated TV advert.

A bold decision was made to show the advert on TV just once, picking a prime-time slot on Sunday evening in the break of I’m a Celebrity get me out of here! The advert which had its own specially written soundtrack was then shown on Amazon prime during some key Christmas football games and YouTube throughout the festive period. We had several requests about where the track could be purchased.

A full range of Merch was created including leggings, socks, mugs, jumpers, hoodies, t-shirts, pizza scented wrapping paper and even a bean bag showing the characters from the illustration. The wrapping paper was announced in a PR release to the press and sold out in just a couple of days.

We partnered with Crisis UK to help them in their campaign to end homelessness and donated 50p from every festive meal deal sold to the charity along with spare change donated online and all of the profits made from the associated merchandise. Over £61k was raised for the charity.

The results

The 2019 marketing campaigns have had a big impact on sales growth. Following the rebrand in March, the brand has gone from strength to strength.

Papa John’s beat Domino’s in Sales Track Growth Tracker in 3 out of 4 quarters in 2019. We also won Pizza Delivery chain of the year at the PAPA Industry Awards.

“To say the challenge that lay ahead of at the start of 2019 was a steep one would be an understatement, but the new team bonded quickly and believed in the new direction for the business. Our drive to do things differently and stand out meant taking risks and pushing boundaries never before broken by the business. This required buy in from key stakeholders both here in the UK and internationally and the calculated risks have been rewarded.

“PJGB will continue to innovate and resonate with our target audience by delivering impactful campaigns that are socially relevant and, wherever possible, philanthropic. The team are excited to deliver the plan for 2020 and see how quickly we can grow the business into the most loved Pizza delivery business in the UK.” - Giles Codd, marketing director, Papa John’s GB

This project was a winner at The Drum Marketing Awards Europe 2020. To find out which Drum Awards are currently open for entries, click here.

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