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This year, Papa John’s launched a brand new product called the Papadia, a riff on an Italian flatbread sandwich called a “piadina,” geared towards growing their market share in lunch — without cannibalizing pizza sales.

With that new product, Director of Social Media and Engagement Leah Schultz and her team had to develop a strategy to market and raise awareness around it.

“People aren’t very familiar with piadinas, but people are familiar with sandwiches and hand-held foods,” said Leah. “Our overarching campaign was called ‘Better Than a Sandwich,’ to try and increase awareness and educate consumers.”

Leah said throughout this whole process, it was important for them to make their advertising and promotions entertaining for their consumers. “We want it to be interactive,” she said. “Any time we can drive time spent with our content is important.”

And, the promotions had to effectively incorporate Shaq, a Papa John’s brand partner, as well.

To drive that kind of interaction and engagement, Leah and her team developed a custom Gamified Snapchat Lens to promote the Papadia.

“In the past, we’ve seen people spending up to 90 seconds with an interactive lens, which is incredible,” said Leah. “So, we decided to develop a new lens for this campaign to drive increased consideration, brand awareness, product awareness, and ultimately, purchase consideration.”

To bring the Snapchat Lens to life, Leah and her team leveraged their partnership with their team at Snapchat.

“We work with them weekly on ideas based on new technology, products, and features they’ve come out with,” she said. “That’s where our Papadia gamified Snapchat lens came from.”

The idea for the game itself came after their experience developing a facial recognition game for their Spiderman promotions last year.

“That went over well and gave us good learnings which we applied to this promotion,” said Leah. “The Snapchat team brought us three ideas, and we decided on the ‘catch the Papadia in your mouth’ game.”

Over the course of a couple of months, their Snapchat partners got the creative together for the lens and brought it to life.

“The main purpose of the game was to drive awareness and consideration of the Papadia,” said Leah. “But consumers can also order through the Snapchat lens. While we may have focused on driving people at the top of the funnel, we always try to drive sales conversions as well.”

For the Papadia promotions, their agency also approached their leadership team with the idea for a mobile sticker pack.

According to Leah, their leadership team was excited about the idea — but it took a lot of work to get the sticker pack off the ground. To get started, Leah and her team looked closely at how other brands have launched sticker packs and tried to learn from what they did.

“We did it by building the sticker pack into our Papa John’s app, so when you update or download the app as a new user, those stickers are automatically installed on your phone,” she said. “That way, we didn’t have to drive users to download something else.”

Then, they also incorporated the stickers into their GIPHY channel — which Leah said is one of their key social channels — so their audience members can incorporate the stickers into their Instagram Stories and Snapchat.

To execute the stickers, the team hired an illustrator — who they tasked with tackling the challenge of depicting the product correctly.

“It could easily look like a taco or a quesadilla, so getting an illustrator that can make it look true to life was critical,” said Leah.

Then, they had to incorporate Shaq’s likeness and get approval on the images from his team. “This was a long creative process with lots of revisions,” said Leah. “Then, we had to decide what the stickers should say. We looked at common things people are communicating via Messenger.”

The whole process around the sticker pack took from January to May — and they had to find ways to adapt around their COVID-19 strategy.

“Most of the preparation time for this sticker pack was for creative design and in-app development,” she said. “Getting something included in an app update can be difficult, as tech priorities can create hurdles.”

“Now that we’ve been through it, it’ll be a lot simpler moving forward as we add in more stickers over the next few months,” she said.

Once the sticker pack was officially ready, Leah and her team got to work promoting and getting the word out about the stickers.

Shaq promoted the stickers on his own social channels, and the Papa John’s social team cross promoted them on their marketing channels as well. Now, they’re looking for moments on their social calendar where they can amplify them as evergreen content.

PapaJohns Shaq Facebook Video

They saw positive feedback and excitement around both of these promotions — and Leah emphasized that constant innovation goes a long way to keeping your audience engaged.

“We see continued success when we look at new and innovative ways to advertise to our consumers beyond what most people in the market are doing,” said Leah. “We’re always looking for how we can add conversation-worthy elements to our campaigns.”

She said it’s been critical to their strategy that they continuously create things that are interesting and compelling — so their PR and communications team can pitch it and create buzz across different media outlets.

But, Leah said, getting to this point of continuous innovation requires time, budget, and collaboration across your organization.

“We are driving the best results for the business when we’re firing on all cylinders and everything works as a calculated recipe together,” she said.

She also emphasized the need to constantly be changing and adapting based on campaign results or audience sentiment.

“We’re always taking what we’ve done on past campaigns with Snap, learning from them, repeating what was successful, and then fine tuning what could have been better,” she said. “That’s been the most critical piece to continue to improve the performance there. We always compare it to the last campaign and try to make it better.”