Papa Johns Names The Martin Agency Its Creative Agency of Record

In 2024, Papa Johns wants to celebrate the culture of pizza, and it’s tapping The Martin Agency to handle those responsibilities.

Earlier this year, the brand hired Mark Shambura, the former CMO of MOD Pizza, to lead the brand as CMO. He’s focused on capitalizing on the brand’s premium positioning in the category, and do less talking at consumers and more connecting with them, which is where The Martin Agency stood out to him and Jaclyn Ruelle, Papa Johns’ head of brand. The brand also hired Dentsu’s Carat to handle its media buying.

Camp + King and Havas formerly held the creative and media accounts, respectively. In the final round of the account review, IPG’s The Martin Agency competed against two Stagwell shops, 72andSunny and Anomaly, and Omnicom’s TBWA\Chiat\Day for the account. Pile and Company conducted the review for the brand, which spent an estimated $255 million on measured media in 2023, according to COMvergence.

“The brand is focused on balancing current customers with the next generation of Papa Johns customers and doing so by going beyond the typical video spot and diving deeper into subcultures,” Shambura told Adweek. “It’s about creativity and ideas, [The Martin Agency] showed up time and time again with the power of platforms.”

Breaking out of a ‘sea of sameness’

In a category driven by limited-time offers and value, Shambura’s goal in 2024 is connect deeper with culture to be more top of mind for consumers. He doesn’t view brand and performance marketing as a pendulum swinging back and forth for a brand, but as two concentric circles that must remain aligned.

That goal is where The Martin Agency and Carat stood out as being the right pair for the brand due to Martin’s creative chops and Carat’s understanding of data and tracking personal profiles through its Merkury product.

To do this, the brand wants to be more than its longtime slogan “Better Ingredients. Better Pizza.”

“We want to be the pizza brand that really celebrates that culture of pizza, not just focusing on the food, but the entire premium experience,” Shambura said, adding, “for us, it’s imbuing a lot more emotion into our brand and into the category than we’ve seen to date.”

Ultimately they want to cut through the “sea of sameness” in the category, said Ruelle, who spent the previous 12 years agency side with MullenLowe and The Martin Agency. “How can we break out of that kind of monotony that you see the category fall into where we’re all kind of shouting price points, and it becomes this coupon wallpaper, in a sense.”

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