Innovative pizza products and a wide-ranging push for diversity are driving Papa Johns’ record-breaking growth. The new Papa Johns CEO, Robert Lynch, has taken an aggressive approach in rebranding the company. In addition to menu expansion, the company is placing people before profits.

In December, Papa Johns launched its 16-inch NY Style Pizza with oversized foldable slices. Customers are taking to the thin crust hand-tossed pie topped with premium pepperoni. Shareholders expect the NY Style Pizza to become a hungry customer favorite.

Lynch’s successful menu expansion was made evident by feedback received ahead of this year’s Super Bowl Sunday, traditionally the highest pizza sales day of the year. The company surveyed over 4,000 nationwide football fans and promised them a chance to win free pizza for a year by trying out the NY Style Pizza. All they needed to do was describe their pizza-eating preferences.

About a third of the overall survey participants revealed they fold their pizza slices. Among the New York residents, 55% claimed a preference for folding oversized slices. Results also showed 78% of pizza lovers prefer pepperoni to other toppings. Considering the high positive feedback the NY Style Pizza received, it’s a safe bet that it will be a permanent addition to Papa Johns’ growing menu.

Shaq Is Cooking With Papa Johns

The inspiration for Papa Johns’ extra-large pizza slices came from former basketball champion Shaquille O’Neill. After investing in nine franchise units, Shaq came on board as a company director. The sports star also agreed to work with Papa Johns’ creative team to develop novel and flavorful pizza products. With Shaq Papa Johns benefits from a unique and enthusiastic entrepreneurial spirit that includes generosity and caring for underserved communities.

The introduction of his signature pie, the Shaq-a-Roni, revitalized customers with its extra-large pepperoni slices. Shaq provides an added reason to buy his namesake pie by sharing a portion of each sale with non-profit community-building organizations. Each sale resulted in The Papa Johns Foundation for Building Community donating $1 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In 2021, sales of the Shaq-a-Roni pizzas raised over $3 million for the organization for the second time.

What Shaq Can Bring to the Papa Johns Business Model

With the Rob Lynch and Shaq leadership formula, the company is set to expand and introduce its innovative menu across the world. A historic expansion of new franchise units is expected throughout China, Uganda and Kenya over the next few years. As a world-renowned figure, Shaq can attract and inspire a diversity of investors and entrepreneurs to become franchise owners.

As Papa Johns expands its footprint across the globe, human rights issues remain prioritized. The company’s website notes Papa Johns scored 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2022 Corporate Equality Index. The index describes Papa Johns as one of the best places for LGBTQ+ employees.

Since Shaq became the company’s spokesperson and helped improve the brand’s image, Papa Johns has stayed on course in its aggressive growth and rebranding campaign. Anyone trying out one of the new foldover pizza slices will easily understand the role played by the new menu in the company’s success.

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