CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- The Super Bowl isn't just about ads, or even football. It's the day Domino's, Pizza Hut and Papa John's fight for their share of the pie on the biggest pizza-delivery night of the year. Already the competitors are lining up with new products, game-day deals and plays for free publicity; none are actually advertising on the game.
"This is a day everyone at Domino's Pizza circles on the calendar," Patrick Doyle, president of Domino's USA, said in a statement. "Our stores prepare for the game weeks in advance, because, unlike other days where we might sell a million pizzas, the orders come in a very compressed period of time on Super Bowl Sunday. The phones start to ring about 30 minutes before kickoff and they continue at a frantic pace through halftime."
Domino's expects to sell 1.1 million pizzas this Sunday, or 40% more than usual. The chain is breaking out a new, premium line of pizzas with more-exotic toppings, such as roasted red peppers, and 40% more cheese. Spokeswoman Jenny Fouracre-Petko said the chain decided to launch the line for the Super Bowl, ahead of the ad buy slated for the following week, because "it's always nice to have a new product for the Super Bowl."
It means Domino's also has the advantage of milking free press as reporters swamp the Super Bowl, making a media buy in the game unnecessary. "We get a lot of media coverage, too," she said. Among the six new pizzas the marketer is offering: Honolulu Hawaiian with Tabasco sauce, Pacific Veggie with spinach and feta, and Buffalo chicken.
Pizza Hut, a pre-game advertiser, is launching Tuscani lasagna on the big day. The layers of noodles, ricotta, parmesan and meat sauce amount to three pounds of food for $14.99, plus breadsticks. Pizza Hut plans to get about 2.5 million orders for pizza, pasta and wings on Sunday, a 55% increase from the usual Sunday. The company claims that if every pizza slice sold were laid end to end, the line would stretch halfway across the U.S. About 80% of orders come before halftime, and this year the chain has ordering available by phone, web, text and Facebook.
Papa John's, the third-largest chain and scrappiest of the bunch, expects to sell about 750,000 pizzas and 1 million chicken wings this Sunday. To mark the occasion, the marketer is introducing honey chipotle sauce for its wings and an "updated" original flavor. The chain is offering one extra-large pizza and 20 wings for $25 on Sunday.
Papa John's is also celebrating its 25th anniversary with a promotion tied to the Super Bowl. The chain enlisted former Green Bay Packer Desmond Howard to "invite" consumers, via a video posted on YouTube, to register for a chance to win a 25-cent pizza -- if the game's initial kickoff is returned for a touchdown.