Friday, February 18, 2022

Papa John’s Getting High Marks for Hemp


You have to give Papa John’s credit to the new team at Papa John’s for changing the PR narrative after the departure of it found John Schnatter.   With sales slumping, customer backlash, and franchisees clamming for new messaging the new team went to work and wall street and the public has forgiven the missteps according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA base Foodservice Solutions®

While not the first chain to put cannabis / hemp products on the menu in a big way, Papa John’s has become the first global quick-service restaurant brand to put superfood hemp seeds on the menu, with the launch of its new limited-edition Hemp Sticks in two key markets. 

Ok, they are not doing it in the U.S. yet, Johnson believes Papa John’s ability to test these new products along with new messaging will prove a valuable asset as the U.S. moves closer and closer to evolving the laws regarding cannabis / hemp nationwide. The trial is now available in the UK and Russia, the launch marks Papa Johns’ first major product innovation of 2022, as it seeks to further strengthen its ‘Better Ingredients. Better Pizza’ commitment to food superiority, a key component in last year’s rebrand announcement.

It already sounds good, handmade using Papa Johns’ fresh never frozen, six ingredient dough, the Russian Hemp Sticks recipe uses Papa Johns’ special garlic sauce and a sprinkle of shelled hemp seeds, while the UK recipe swaps special garlic sauce for garlic butter sauce and also includes mozzarella.

Regular readers of this blog know, Gen Z and millennials have become the biggest purchasers of better-for-you Reasy-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food. Now the halo of grocerant niche fresh food trend has clearly been embraced by Papa Johns.   

The fun part will be watching and listening to the new product launch and its integrated marketing campaign.  Then we will see just how independent nutritionists and media personalities respond to the hemp offering? Do you think they will be able to drive consumer trial of hemp seeds by debunking popular misconceptions? Our Grocerant Guru® thinks they can, as this has proven to be a ground-up not a top-down marketing choice. What consumers want, they get, even if it takes 40 years.

The back story; this latest campaign is also underpinned by new Woodstock-inspired creative to highlight that hemp is high in plant protein, vitamins and other nutrients. PR, social media and paid media promotion will be deployed in both launch markets.

Messaging to Gen Z and Millennials the PR will focus on demonstrating the euphoria of natural highs, executed as ‘highest’ food delivery stunts. The UK stunt stars TV daredevil turned plant-based chef, Matt Pritchard, abseiling down a cliff face to deliver the Hemp Sticks. In Russia, ‘roofer’ influencers, Angela Nikolau and Ivan Beerkus, will receive their delivery by drone, at the top of skyscraper.

Jo Blundell, VP of International Marketing at Papa Johns, stated, “With the launch of Hemp Sticks, Papa Johns has become the first global [quick-service] brand to make superfood hemp available to all. Premium, innovative ingredients are the very core of our pizzas, so Hemp Sticks will offer pizza fans a new way to enjoy our iconic breadsticks and help to dispel some of the misunderstanding surrounding this 100% legal, delicious seed.”  Is your brand looking outside the box for top-line growth and bottom-line profits?

For international corporate presentations, regional chain presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions.  His extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert, and public speaking will leave success clues for all. For more information visit, FoodserviceSolutions.US or call 1-253-759-7869

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