Little Caesars' NFL Partnership Sends A Message To Potential Franchisees

Little Caesars was hoping to score a touchdown with its multi-year partnership with the NFL, and so far it seems to be succeeding. The family-owned pizza chain signed a five-year deal with the football league in 2022, replacing Pizza Hut as its official pizza sponsor, and the move has already helped spur the company's growth, especially in regard to new franchising opportunities.

Needless to say, a sponsorship deal with the NFL comes with a vast amount of national exposure. Per the league's own announcement of its partnership with the brand, over 100 million football fans regularly tune in to watch the games each season. Given Little Caesars' exclusive advertising rights, branding opportunities, activations, and newly introduced outposts in five football stadiums across the country, the company's national presence is no doubt getting an impressive boost.

As a result, the high-profile football partnership, which touts the company's affordable and accessible "Hot-N-Ready" pizza options as the perfect game day snack, has helped send a message to potential new franchisees. As the company's Chief Development Officer Jeremy Vitaro told QSR Magazine, the sponsorship deal is allowing "people who were thinking of investing with the brand ... understand how diverse [and significant]" Little Caesars is, adding that the opportunity has been incredibly beneficial from a "development perspective."

The company is on the road to growth

By the end of last year, Little Caesars earned its rank as the third largest pizza chain in the United States, operating a total of 4,173 units, falling just behind Domino's and Pizza Hut, per a ranking by QSR. But despite a number of store closures faced by the company since 2020, the pizza chain has been on a steady growth track. In 2021, the chain achieved a record high in sales, according to Forbes. And even before its sponsorship deal with the NFL was officially announced, Little Caesars was on track to double its U.S. franchising agreements in 2022, as reported by Restaurant Dive at the time.

Indeed, since the beginning of 2023, the restaurant chain has announced its plans to open hundreds of new locations with the help of its franchisees, starting with a 10-unit agreement to expand Little Ceasar's footprint in New York City. Vitaro has also expressed setting the brand's sights on markets spanning the Pacific Northwest to the Carolinas.

Paired with the success the company has seen after launching delivery in 2020 and partnering with Uber Eats earlier in 2023, the NFL sponsorship is shaping up to be a major win for Little Caesars, in regards to both brand awareness and sales. The increased value it's now communicating to potential franchisees is an undeniable bonus that may bolster the chain's growth even further in the coming years.