Little Caesars to make its Super Bowl debut with ad touting new pizza delivery service

Key Points
  • Little Caesars will air its first Super Bowl commercial this year.
  • The ad spotlights the pizza chain's move into delivery for the first time through a partnership with DoorDash.
  • Papa John's and Pizza Hut have also partnered with third-party delivery platforms, but Domino's has said that it will never follow their example.
A still from Little Caesars' first Super Bowl ad
Little Caesars

Little Caesars is heading to the Super Bowl for the first time.

The pizza chain's ad will spotlight its new delivery partnership with DoorDash.

By the number of stores it operates, the privately held company built itself into the third-largest pizza chain in the U.S., without ever offering delivery. But in early January, Little Caesars announced a partnership with DoorDash, whose fleet of drivers will deliver the pizzas. Customers can only order through Little Caesars' website or app, not through DoorDash, the largest digital food delivery service by sales.

This year, a 30-second commercial during the big game could cost as much as $5.6 million.

"If we didn't have news that we thought was worth the investment, we wouldn't be here," Little Caesars Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Klein said in an interview.

Little Caesars' advertising usually focuses on limited-time offers. The company's Super Bowl ad will star actor Rainn Wilson, best known for his role on "The Office."

Outsourcing delivery to apps like Grubhub, Postmates and Uber Eats is not new for pizza chains. Papa John's partnered with DoorDash in March, while Pizza Hut has a partnership with Grubhub because its parent company Yum Brands owns a stake in the delivery company.

But partnering with third parties hasn't helped Papa John's or Pizza Hut overtake Domino's Pizza — or Little Caesars. Little Caesars trails only Domino's when it comes to its share of the $37 billion limited-service pizza restaurant market, according to Euromonitor data from 2018. Rivals have partnered with delivery aggregators, but Domino's executives have said that they will never do so, even as the pizza chain loses sales to the apps, which offer a wider variety of meal options.

As Little Caesars moves into Domino's territory through pizza delivery, the rival pizza chain is trying to steal market share from Little Caesars for carryout pizza. About 45% of Domino's U.S. transactions, accounting for roughly a third of its $6.6 billion in retail sales, are carryout orders. Domino's plans to keep growing carryout orders, which are more profitable for its franchisees than deliveries.

Klein, previously a marketing executive for PepsiCo, worked on Doritos Super Bowl commercials over the years, included its "Crash the Super Bowl" contest for ads created by consumers.

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