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Pizza Hut heats up impulse sales with fantasy football-themed ESPN contest

Pizza Hut is hosting a collaborative contest with ESPN that invites consumers to nominate their fantasy draft team’s commissioner for a prize and simultaneously order a pizza to sweeten their football-viewing experiences.

The Commissioner of the Week contest, which Pizza Hut and ESPN host yearly, asks fantasy football lovers to nominate their team’s commissioner for a slew of sports-themed prizes. The mobile-optimized site on which nominations can be submitted also features an order now button, which users can leverage to purchase food for their viewing parties.

“Contests are one way to attract attention from people but only if it’s interesting and engaging enough for the audience,” said David Daniels, senior director of advertising at Pizza Hut. “We need our digital content to be easily consumed and shared from a mobile device, and programs like the Commissioner of the Year is one example of that.”

Fantasy prizes
The contest is an attempt to give fantasy football players the chance to celebrate the commissioners, the person in a fantasy league who oversees the entire game, and thank them for the hard work they put in.

To do that, fantasy players are encouraged to go on social media and nominate their commissioners. Players can use the hashtag #CommishContest to get their commissioner noticed.

Players can also nominate their commissioner through a desktop and mobile site that includes two call-to-action buttons, letting players order a pizza for their fantasy league events while they enter their nomination at the same time.

Every week, ESPN and Pizza Hut will draw names of contestants who can win a variety of smaller prizes. The prizes come in a variety of shapes, including gift cards for both Pizza Hut and ESPN, mentions in ESPN’s fantasy football issue, a commemorative football and other weekly prizes.

The grand prize winner will receive a custom ring, custom jacket and a trip to ESPN Campus to attend a fantasy ranking summit.

Each weekly winner will be designated the commissioner of the week, in addition to their other prizes. At the end of the contest, the grand prize winner will become commissioner of the year.

Last year’s commissioner of the week grand prize consisted of a ruby-and-diamond-encrusted ring worth more than $10,000, along with other high-profile prizes.

The contest will last for 16 weeks with 16 winners including the grand prize winner.

Fantasy phones
ESPN is no stranger to using mobile to target millennials. Its partnership last year with Snapchat shows the brand knows where to target the younger demographic (see story).

The sports network has also been on top of the fantasy football wave in the past few years, hosting its own fantasy network for many major American sports. ESPN has its own fantasy league management app where players can keep track of all their points and rankings.

Similarly, Pizza Hut has been upping its mobile and digital game, especially given the relatively advanced digital state of pizza chains compared to other types of restaurants.

Domino’s has been making waves with chatbots and a variety of online ordering options. But Pizza Hut actually introduced its own chatbot two months earlier (see story).

Fantasy football itself has also been undergoing a digital revolution, with more players moving from pen-and-paper stat tracking to digital fantasy management applications such as ESPN’s or the NFL’s. ESPN and Pizza Hut are trying to target the fantasy-loving demographic, which is increasingly moving towards digital.

“Everything we do starts with mobile, be it Web site design or social media content,” Mr. Daniels said. “We want to present our content in a way that works for the mobile consumer.

“You have to get their attention quickly, so you have to design your message assuming their sound is off or they’re scrolling through dozens of images. Understanding that behavior helps us create content that our audience finds interesting.”