Pizza chain Papa John's is launching a social-media campaign at its Facebook site, called "Papa's Specialty Pizza Challenge," asking its fans to suggest a new pizza.
And in an unusual twist, the company is offering the winner of the promotion a portion of the profits from sales of the top pie, which will join the menu list at restaurants, and $1,000 to help market the pie during the month when the finalists compete for sales volume.
When people go to Facebook.com/PapaJohns, in addition to entering the toppings list they have devised, they also have to write a brief rumination of 250 words or less what makes their pizza unusual, special, or generally audacious for a chance to win. The company is judging the pies on appeal, taste, creativity of the name and the quality of the back story on how the contestant dreamed up the pie.
While the company says all entries will be featured in a gallery on Papa John's Facebook page, the company's president, "Papa" John Schnatter, and associates will choose 10 semifinalists, whose recipes will be cooked and tasted-tested by Schnatter and other judges at Papa John's Louisville, Ky., headquarters.
The top three recipes will be showcased on the chain's menu through August. The highest-selling pizza wins, and the winner gets free Papa John's pizza for life and an appearance in a "Papa's in the House" TV commercial.
A Papa John's spokesperson explains that the contest winner gets 1% of sales, up to $10,000 for the 12 month period that his or her pizza is offered following the contest. The winner also gets free pizza for life (based on 50 years of pizza at $480 per year). "The winning pie will actually become a part of Papa John's specialty menu, but the start date is yet to be determined," says the spokesperson.
As for the $1,000 that the finalists get to promote their pizzas during August, "They can use the cash to create viral videos in support of their pizza, buy advertising, rent a billboard and so on, or just keep the money and hope the popularity of their pizza catches on in other ways," says the spokesperson. This is the first time in company history that Papa John's has asked consumers to name and create a pizza and share the story of their pizza.
Last May, the company launched the "Papa's In the House" campaign, whose central conceit is that Schnatter might actually show up to homes as the delivery person. The ads have him driving a replica of the Chevy Camaro he purportedly sold to fund his initial foray into pizza. The ads, via Z Group, use real customers and are shot around Louisville.
The international chain is the third-largest pizza company globally, after Domino's and Pizza Hut.