The NFL’s Sponsors Have Caused More Animal Suffering Than Michael Vick
Even within the cruel world of factory farming, Pizza Hut’s treatment of animals is particularly bad
In the summer of 2018, Pizza Hut was struggling. They’d lost their title of America’s biggest pizza chain to Domino’s, and their same-store sales growth had been negative for five of the last eight quarters. But on September 6th, the first day of the NFL season, everything changed for the cheesy, meaty powerhouse: Pizza Hut became the league’s official pizza sponsor, a coup reportedly made possible by former sponsor Papa John’s jingoistic opposition to pro-racial-justice NFL protestors like Colin Kaepernick. It was the beginning of what the troubled brand hoped would become a turnaround.
Super Bowl 2019 broke sales records for Pizza Hut — they served six million wings on the day, along with 10 million ounces of cheese. The partnership, was, shall we say, a game-changer for the company. Marianne Radley, Pizza Hut’s Chief Brand Officer told Forbes that it “absolutely” generated new customers adding that, “partnering with the NFL has helped us increase awareness and reach more fans across the country.”
Pizza Hut helps to create the economic and cultural logic that says killing any number of animals is fine, as long as they’re the right kind of animals.
Pizza Hut upped the ante with Super Bowl 2020. In their pre-game press release, Pizza Hut announced, “mouthwatering ads for the fan-favorite Meat Lover’s® Pizza will be running on repeat to remind fans to order their gameday grub before kickoff.” They offered the pies, each laden with over a pound of meat and cheese, at a 30% percent discount. Paul R. La Monica, a business correspondent for CNN, called the Pizza Hut-NFL deal a “sales and profit touchdown.” While Pizza Hut never completely cleared their financial struggles — in February 2020, Bloomberg reported that Pizza Hut’s largest franchisee, NPC International, was considering bankruptcy — for a time, it looked like the NFL would be the Hail Mary the pizza brand needed.