Papa John's perfects its recipe for delivering on digital

Stephen Whiteside

"We just hired a new agency," Jim Ensign, vp/global digital marketing at Papa John's International, told delegates at OMMA Mobile, a conference held in New York as part of Internet Week 2014.

Many of the details behind America's third-largest pizza chain moving its creative duties to a new shop already were familiar to the conference delegates:

  • the arrival of a new CMO, in the person of Bob Kraut;
  • "several months of evaluation of the brand's advertising needs;"
  • the decision of incumbent agency ZGroup (part of Ft. Lauderdale-based Zimmerman Advertising ) not to participate in the review;
  • the emergence of four finalists: Arnold, BBDO, Doner and Grey.

Grey's victory was largely credited its creative credentials, strategic savvy and category insights. But the shift, Ensign said, symbolised a more profound transformation taking place at Papa John's – which spent $119 million on measured media in 2012 and $87.4 million in the opening nine months of 2013, according to Kantar Media – and within the marketing ecosystem as a whole.