Pizza Hut Brings Together Former NCAA Foes For Latest Iteration of NCAA Partnership Activation

The halftime presentation during the 2018 FCS National Championship game will take fans back to an old football rivalry, as Pro Football Hall of Fame Finalist and former FCS and NFL player, Terrell Owens, takes on former defensive competitor, Cortland Finnegan.

This time, though, the two retired football players will not battle against each other on offense and defense, but rather, in an obstacle course on the gridiron. Testing their speed, agility and football catching abilities, the event is one of Pizza Hut’s Rivalry Challenges, part of its partnership with the NCAA.

“When it comes to college football, you’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger rivalry than one between a wide receiver and a defensive back. But add a legendary wide receiver with a larger-than-life personality to the mix like Terrell Owens and a shutdown defensive back with a crazy competitive drive like Cortland Finnegan, and you’ve set the stage for the ultimate Pizza Hut Rivalry Challenge. As the Official Pizza of the NCAA, we’re thrilled to bring Rivalry Challenges – and huge Pizza Hut deals – to college sports fans all season long,” said Doug Terfehr, Pizza Hut’s senior director of partnerships and public relations.

In the second year of its partnership with the NCAA, Pizza Hut has unveiled the new Rivalry Challenges activation, which pits former NCAA competitors against one another in unique competitions at their respective sport’s national championship. The campaign marks the second year in a row that Pizza Hut has done something no other NCAA partner has done: activate its partnership at every NCAA championship.

Last season, Pizza Hut executed the Pizza Hut All-American campaign, throughout which one college sports fan traveled to twenty-five cities and attended thirty-three NCAA Division I national championships. Throughout his travels, the Pizza Hut All-American took NCAA fans behind-the-scenes at national championships to capture unique content and interviews that were shared across various social media platforms.

“With a great partner like the NCAA, we wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before. They said nobody inside their organization has attended every championship. That’s when we knew we had an activation that cut through the clutter,” Terfehr told RULING SPORTS.

Initiating creative campaigns around its NCAA partnership has paid dividends for Pizza Hut. Some of the greatest rewards for the brand have been seen on social media. Developing standalone social media accounts for the Pizza Hut All-American, which currently remain active, allowed the brand to expand its reach to connect with younger consumers. In total, a combined 25,000 followers were gained on the All-American’s Twitter and Instagram accounts during the first year of the program, according to Pizza Hut.

“In general, the average age of a social media follower is much younger than the average consumer. The Pizza Hut All-American really connected with younger millennials,” Terfehr noted.

While Pizza Hut remains the only NCAA partner to activate around every NCAA Division I national championship, the NCAA isn’t closing off the possibility that other corporate partners may follow suit.

“We have regular communication with our [partners] about the research we’re seeing around championships, which includes growth, increased fan attendance and exposure. We encourage them to take a look at championships in addition to basketball in order to broaden their fan base and give our fans who may not attend Final Fours the opportunity to experience their activations,” the NCAA told RULING SPORTS.

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