Papa John's has named Grey its new creative agency after a review.
The chain began the review in November, a month after Arby's and Pizza Hut marketing veteran Bob Kraut was named Papa John's new chief marketing officer. He succeeded Andrew Varga, who left Papa John's in March to become president at Zimmerman.
Grey declined to comment. Papa John's did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The account had been handled by ZGroup, a unit of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based Zimmerman. The review, which was creative only, was initiated following several months of evaluation of the brand's advertising needs, according to a press release at the time. Zimmerman declined to participate in the review, though it was believed the agency will retain the media and co-op buying portions of the business.
NJS Consulting oversaw the review process, and finalists included Doner, Havas' Arnold, Omincom's BBDO and WPP's Grey. BBDO and Doner had experience in the pizza category, with BBDO working on Pizza Hut until 2009 and Doner formerly handling Domino's. Doner also handles some of Arby's local co-op marketing.
In the restaurant category, Grey already handles Olive Garden and Red Lobster.
It remains to be seen what the creative will be, although people familiar with the brand's request for proposals said it sought pitches in which Papa John's founder John Schnatter would still be featured in the marketing.
Papa John's is the No. 3 pizza chain in the U.S. by systemwide sales, according to Technomic, following No. 2 Domino's and category leader Pizza Hut. Papa John's has 7.3% market share, with $2.4 billion in U.S. sales in 2012. Pizza Hut has 17.1% market share and Domino's has a 10.5% share.
Papa John's spent about $87.4 million on advertising in measured media during the first three quarters of 2013, according to Kantar Media. The company spent $119 million on U.S. measured media in 2012, up 4.8% from $113 million. Pizza Hut spent $239 million in 2012, while Domino's spent $197.2 million.