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How to Build Brand Buzz with the VP Head of Brand of Papa Johns, Jaclyn Ruelle

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Welcome to another episode of Scratch, where Eric is joined by the brilliant Jaclyn Ruelle, VP head of Brand @Papa Johns, the mastermind behind Papa Johns exceptional campaigns. Jaclyn unravels the secrets of creating a buzz around your brand and igniting captivating conversations among your consumers.

Together, they explore the art of truly understanding your customers and consistently delivering content that sparks their curiosity. Jaclyn emphasizes the significance of strategic communication methods, including new channels which are still growing, in establishing a robust online presence. Moreover, she sheds light on the concept of identifying your brand's "carrier pigeons" – the key individuals who can ignite a ripple effect of excitement and viral discussions.

They discuss various metrics to measure ‘talkability’  such as the "Impact ratio”, and  “Attention Score” - a valuable tool for evaluating campaign performance by considering factors such as engagement and media spend. She also talks about recognizing the need for a quick and decisive team to launch impactful campaigns, especially during major events like the Super Bowl. Additionally, they stress the importance of active listening and contributing meaningful insights to discussions, all while extending your brand's reach for a lasting impact.

[If you’re a brand-side marketer and want to join the AMP community, check out the application form here]

Watch the video version of this Podcast on YouTube 🎥.


(00:00) Intro

(04:00) A Challenger Brand you're really passionate about

(14:25) How do you start with 'getting a deeping understanding' your consumer?

(19:30) How do you decide what to say, where to say it, and when to say it?

(25:48) What metrics do you look at to understand whether or not you're driving 'talkability' around the brand?

(34:02) Is there a case study that you can point to about driving buzz?

(42:48) Lightning Round

"Scratch" is a production of Rival, a marketing consultancy and technology company that builds challenger brands, strategies, and capabilities to change categories. 

In every episode Eric interviews the CMO of some of the worlds biggest or fastest-growing brands, exploring their innovative marketing strategies that challenge established incumbents. Immerse yourself in the world of challenger brands and learn valuable marketing lessons from industry experts, as you discover their secrets to success. 

Find Jaclyn on Linkedin.

Find Rival online at, LinkedIn, Twitter

Find Eric on LinkedIn and tweet him @efulwiler

Say hi at, we’d love to hear from you.


Eric: Good conversation. It was a good conversation. You started with getting in and out review on us. His only question was around do we work with kind of the mid tier community regional banks, presumably the challengers and the incumbents. Instead of giving us all the priorities, he said he wanted to focus on the areas where we might be able to work together. The first was end user adoption marketplace. So basically as a pilot, but it can't just stop there, what comes next? And then the other was general marketing support and invest principles and practices. And it sounded like he wanted to focus more on the first one, taking the pilot and moving it to the next stage. talked about how he doesn't want to get into staff augmentation. I think that was with their national size but I'm not sure. Mentioned woman in Brooklyn, his team is in demand. He's talked to Joni, he wants to assign people to and use your marketing can just be Joni and Michael. He also mentioned that this is going to need to scale to work with multiple partners or can be exclusive with us. He wants to get another call within two three weeks. Type the agenda ahead of that call. He thinks there's a lot of pent up demand for this. How do we bring the pilot into more of a program and then its execution? He's going to talk to Jodi and I think Brooke and then get back to us on times for a call. He said next week is bad unless you follow up with him.

I'm Eric Fulwiler. And this is scratch, bringing you marketing lessons from leading brands and brain's rewriting the rulebook from scratch for the world is today.

Everyone a very special episode of scratch. We have Jaclyn Ruelle, the VP and Head of Brand for Papa John's pizza, based out of the US Jaclyn and I go way back to the time that we spent together working at Mullen up in Boston. And she's awesome, as you will hear and super smart. I love the topic of this conversation. And the other thing I really like is how tactical she gets in how specific she gets with. Here's what to think about. Here's what to do. Let me give you a couple examples of how we've done this. It's very hands on and practical. So I think you're really going to enjoy this. Jacqueline talking about how to build buzz and talk ability around the brand and the journey that she's on to reignite Papa John's business elevate their spot as one of America's most loved takeaway pizza chains. I will say fair warning. Do not listen to this episode hungry because we do talk a lot about pizza and pizza topics. And I'm very hungry right now. So that's my only concern is make sure you got a snack ready. Other than that, please enjoy my conversation with Jacqueline. Well.

All right, a very special episode of scratch today with Jacqueline Ruelle. It's so good to see you. Again. Thank you so much for making the time to do this.

Jaclyn: It's so good to see you as well. Thank you for having me, this is going to be fun.

So obviously, we go way back, we won't get into how many years we've known each other. But I always enjoyed working with you. When we were in Milan, we spent a lot of time together. I've loved watching what you've done since then, at the Martin agency, and now venturing over to the brand side. And your role at Papa John's. So I love the topic. As soon as you said it on our prep call. I was like yes, we need to dig into this and you're the perfect person to do it. So I'm really excited to to hear your perspective on this topic.

Jaclyn: Awesome. Yeah, it's, it's a it's a passion point for me, you know, like, how do we build up these brands and get people talking in the right way?

Eric: Amazing. All right, well, we're gonna get into it. But before we do the icebreaker question that we ask every guest, can you tell us about a challenger brand that you're passionate about? Right now? And why?

Jaclyn: Yeah, so you know, I've really been paying a lot of attention to the beer category. Maybe that's because beer and pizza you know, name a name, and we're iconic duo. But I think what I've seen as a marketer, but even as a consumer is they're actually speaking to women in a different way than than what I've seen previously. And I think I can almost tell the journey that they're going on to be able to kind of wrangle that female customer. So um, you know, I'm, I'm really paying a lot of attention. There's Coors Light back in the fall was doing a whole spot about like a woman that comes home from work and she like, unhooks her bra and throws it on the couch and then right now, you know, there's a bug light spot out there in the world and like a woman is literally like carrying five beers in her hands and kind of bobbing and weaving through a crowded, a crowded bar or crowded pub wherever she is. And I think they're doing a really amazing job at not making it like the guys guys kind of beer drinking spots that we know of the past. And so keeping a really watchful eye on what's going on in that category.

Eric: Are there any because obviously, you know, when I was on the agency side did a lot of work with Anheuser Busch, and all the big brands that you would think about, but of course, that's a category that is being very disrupted by challenger brands, and also challenger categories, or challenger products, in terms of hard Seltzer and all those other options. Is there are there any kind of like challengers that you're seeing in that space, or that you personally are kind of gravitating towards? That's really speaking to you?

Jaclyn: Yeah, you know, you know, what I would say, who I think is acting like a challenger in that space, you know, you've got all the seltzers competing, and I think there's a little bit of like, Blurred Lines, it's, they're all kind of doing the same thing. I actually think even though it feels, you know, like, it's a bigger brand, I think what modelo is doing because it came in, in such a kind of cornered pocket of the beer business. I think they're competing for those mainstream slots. Whereas like, they could have been kind of the beer of summer, and just taking a small corner of it. I think they're coming in strong, and actually playing within, you know, the Budweiser, Bud Light Miller Lite Coors Light category. So I think sometimes when I think about a challenger brand, it's like, who could be mainstream, but they're kind of punching above their weight and acting like that, that number two, number three, that's kind of trying to claw its way to the top.

Eric: Yep. Well, it's what we used to say at Mullen, right? Even if you're a number two, you need to think and act like a number one, or sorry, the other way around. Even if you're number one, you need to think and act like a number two.

Jacqueline: Isn't that like an old Phil Knight quote or something?

Eric: It is, yeah, from Nike.

Jaclyn: That's right.

Eric: Cool. So let's get into the topic. So we are going to talk about buzz. And this started, and you threw out a couple great stats about how brands that are talked about brands that are able to build more buzz are able to drive more growth within their category. And we'll share some of the links to the research in the show notes for folks. But why don't we start with the definition? I think it's one of those terms that gets thrown around so much. Everybody talks about building brand buzz, how would you actually define the term brand buzz?

Jaclyn: Yeah, it's, um, this was a great question when I saw it coming, where I'm like, You know what, we debated this for a long time when I was at the Martin agency, because we wanted to talk about it in the right way for the brands that we're working on. The way that I always like to think about it is Buzz is about driving talk ability. And now I've just thrown another buzzword and into the mix. But I think it's how do you get your customers talking and sharing about your brand, but also like, consistently, I think the consistency angle of it. If you really want to be buzzing all the time, I think you've got to have that hum, that doesn't just come and go right, you got to have a rhetoric that transcends even when you have something big coming, but even when you're maybe between two different conversations. So I think that's an you know, it's a consistent talk value that a brand earns from their customers just being out in the world, feeling compelled to talk about that brand, whether it's to their friends, their families, their networks.

Eric: It's interesting, because I totally agree. And the other perspective and data point that I throw out there is that with Curo, this category intelligence tool that we built that looks at search data within a category to understand how it's changing, which brands are winning and losing and why that's one of the big takeaways for us with most brands and most categories is when you see a spike in search activity, so people searching for brand, either positive or negative, oftentimes, because you can look at it over time, the ultimate share of search for that brand within the category does not really change. But the ones that do the ones that are able to actually consistently gain share of search, which then of course correlates to market share gains are the ones that are consistently driving more talk ability. So we haven't distilled that down into a brands that drive X percentage share of search, gain y percentage over a consistent over a Z timeline. But I think that could be an interesting angle, but anecdotally, that's a lot of what we're seeing within the category is actually those spikes, which of course we get so excited about in the marketing world on the PR world. The question is always is that actually driving growth of the business and driving gains in market share within the category but of course like you, you know, where we started this conversation and some of the research that's out there. It really does. It's not just a PR thing it really does focusing on talk ability really does drive business growth in the long term, if you can do it consistently.

Jaclyn: That's right. And you know what I liked about what you were just saying. I mean, I think sometimes, you know, in marketing, we talk about being provocative, provoking a conversation. It's like, you don't obviously want to tip the scale and to negative buzz, nobody ever wants to earn that part. But sometimes you have to do something in a provocative enough way where people are going to take an opinion, that might not be exactly what you want them to hold about your brand. But you need to provoke that conversation between two customers. And I think sometimes, like you're trying to go for like, all positive all the time, which granted, like you want that to be the end result. But I think you have to put things out in the world, that don't just always get the heads nodding in agreement with you, but actually inspire people talk about things.

Eric: Yeah. Because, you know, actually, it's like that expression. of if the biggest risk with modern marketing isn't saying the wrong thing, it's actually saying something that nobody cares about, right? Like, the biggest risk is actually taking no risks, because especially, you know, name, the category, all of them. The noise is so great, the competition for attention and headlines and media is so great, that if you play it too safe, you're not going to stand out at all, and people are going to talk about you, they're not even going to know that you're there. But I think that's all you know, the reality of it. And you know, you now being in house, love your perspective. But also on the agency side, you know, we've all been there, the reality of actually getting a brand, especially a big established brand that has a lot to lose. And this is why challengers are often able to do this well, because they don't have as much to lose, they're more comfortable, and it's more natural for them to take risk. But actually getting a business to say something that might be a little bit provocative, say something that might not be exactly, you know, you're not exactly sure how it's gonna go over. That can be a real challenge. Is that something? You know, we got a tonne of stories that we can swap back and forth from the agency world. But is that is that something that you've kind of take into your role at Papa John's is an obviously that brand, having gone through a lot over the last couple of years, focusing specifically on the comfort level and the culture. And then also the process of how do we actually take risks to get talked about? Is that something specifically that you're trying to do?

Jaclyn: Yeah, I mean, listen, that's ultimately the goal, I think we have to be super intentional about how we get there. And so I think a lot of what my time has been to date is all about laying the framework to be able to kind of embrace that bravery and be able to go out in the world and have those types of conversations, I think, what's what's really important about what we've been doing is making sure that we know who our customer is. Because I think a lot of times when you go out in the world, and you have these conversations, the places where brands misstep is they think that their customer is going to be a well received recipient of a particular topic. And it just kind of ends up being a swing and a miss. And so a lot of what we're doing is over indulging in research right now, to kind of redefine our customer. So when we go take these swings, at the right types of cultural topics, we're going to at least know enough to know that it's a topic that our customers care about. Because the one thing is, is you could totally upset a group of customers, right. And like, you always have to peek around every corner and think about who who has the potential to kind of bring that backlash. The other thing that you mentioned earlier is you just might enter a topic they don't care about. And then so it becomes white noise again. And so I think part of our science behind the scenes right now is studying and watching and seeing and understanding, what are those cultural topics that our customers are going to want to celebrate with us or want to take a stand against or for with us, and just understand where we're going to kind of strike that sweet spot? And go from there?

Eric: And how do you like tactically, either in general, or specifically what you did when you came to Papa John's and kind of, you know, sort of, I know, You've been there seven months, and then sorted, sorted out what you want to do. And we're like, right, we need a better understanding, or deeper understanding of our audience. Where did you actually start like, did you go find an agency? Is there kind of a tool that you used? How do you actually start that process? Because I think that and again, having done a lot of these and also my last company, as you know, actually building product, it really does start and end with an understanding of the customer, whether it's a product or a great brand. It is about customer centricity, and ideally a customer's customer centricity that's differentiated from your competition, an understanding of or insight in your audience that other people don't have ad then that you're then able to kind of activate creatively or through comps. But I just be curious, you know, because it's still relatively fresh that process when you decided you wanted to do that, where did you start?

Jaclyn: Yeah, it's a great question. So we started with a curiosity about the customer, right? Because in the, in the math, pizza category, there, it is very easy to just mark it to everybody with a mouse that loves pizza, which, by the way, is, you know, a lot of people in the whole entire world, right. And so the difficult part is actually get attacking that segment and trying to find the white space that our customers aren't dominating and right now, right, so we can try to find that unique angle. So we've been doing a number of things, because it's not like a one pure silver bullet, I would say. So we've been digging deep with a partner on customer segmentation. We're also overlaying that with first party data of our current customer base, and then we're trying to find where things matching up where their potential gaps, right, and so that that's kind of been running. We have great agency partners that we're working with. And so there's trying to put kind of third party research a strategic layer, on top of the research that's been done, looking at doing, you know, focus groups going out into the market, like tried and true. Kind of like feet on the street of talking to customers talking to our team members in the stores, really trying to wrap our arms around.The need states, I would say that's another important thing about this is there can be a lot of demographic psychographic information that starts to come through but synthesising it all into figuring out what is the true need state that we're trying to attack? Because then that's when we can really turn on the creativity? What's the type of content? What are the different types of channels, and so we've probably got three or four different paths going from proprietary research to first party data overlay to agency partners coming in with a little bit of that outsider perspective to make sure we're synthesising it in a way that gets us into those actionable insights. Because I think sometimes you can be like paralysed by data. And especially if there's a wealth of data, it starts pouring in. And then it's okay, well, what do we do with this? How do we action this? And so I think it's, like I said, it's not just a one size fits all, we're coming at it from a lot of different angles. You talked about tools, as well, I think there's a tonne of we have like a, an overflowing Mar tech stack, inside the company. But what I'd also say is, I like to look at tools, and I use this a lot at Martin agency, which sounds somewhat similar to what what you're doing with your tool insert. So I use news whip a lot that looked at velocity of storytelling. And what that helped us do is understand in the marketplace, when a brand starts being talked about a particular story, what is kind of the the relevance and prevalence of how, how quickly or, you know, what's the long tail on that conversation breaking through. And I thought that was interesting to overlay, digital outlets, journalism, you know, journalistic publications with social media platforms to understand if you've got the right piece of content in the conversation, you can put it out in the world, who do you put it with that helps it to scale and break through. So then I think as you start to piece all of these things together, you almost create that engine of hitting the customer nailing a topic with a piece of content, that makes sense, but then how do you seed it in the right way, because if it, that's like, the missing piece, sometimes you can have a really amazing piece of content that your fans are gonna go wild about. And like, if you just don't reach them, at the right time, and through the right channels, it might not be as big of a bang as you thought it would be. So I, I think piecing all of that together has been what we've been trying to do and take some smart swings inside Papa John's, for how we're going to start coming to market more regularly.

Eric: So be curious to dig a little bit deeper, because I'm kind of thinking about and I want to ask you like other principles and processes that you have in mind and apply to this ultimate end goal of how do you build a brand that gets talked about that has buzz. So there's certainly one that's, you know, the deep and differentiated understanding of the customer and that needs to be kind of at the foundation. And I think from what you're saying, a big part of that is it's not just a one off exercise, you kind of need to build the partner and the systems and also the mindset for that to be an ongoing thing. And then there's the Okay, if that's our customer, then there's the culture around the customer, because it's the intersection between those two, or there's an opportunity for the brand to kind of insert itself in a meaningful way. And so you need to build that out when it comes to the execution. So you've got the insight, you've got the cultural layer that you want to, you know, stand in or stand on, when it comes to the execution of actually deciding what to say where to say it, when to say it. What does that look like in what you're building right now?

Jaclyn: Yeah, that's like the matrix, right? It's the chessboard. Here's what I would say. It is not the same playbook every time. And I think it depends on what it what is the news and the noise you're going to look look to make? And who do you want to talk about it first. So I'll tell a little a little backstory. When I was at Mullen, we were working on American Greetings, and we did this phenomenal piece of content for Mother's Day, this is back in like 2014. And we decided to identify we called, we call them our carrier pigeons. We were like, who are going to be the core carrier pigeons of this story that we think will allow it to take off, because they're going to share and kind of create that sustaining power with their network. And, you know, it was moms. And that seems obvious when you're talking about Mother's Day. But a lot of Mother's Day content. And advertising often speaks to the people that are going to celebrate mom. So it's the spouses, it's the kids, it's the family members. And you don't always see someone going well, I'm going to talk to moms about about their day and talk about moms. And so we armed the moms to be the carrier of the story, to go out and support and lift up other moms. So I think again, it's you know, I'm gonna go and repeat it goes back to to the customer, like Gone are the days where you just try to go land everything on a morning show. You know, I remember back in the day, it was like, let's get it on the Today Show. Let's get it on. Good Morning, America. And then it was like, that was your gold golden moment. Right? I think now, it is somewhere much more surgical about who to place it with because you might actually need to go put it in, in Tik Tok, and let it take off there first. And then maybe it grows a little bit more mainstream, or honestly, maybe it lives in tick tock the whole time. And because of that, you know, e commerce engine that has prevailed, like maybe that's where you win. And I think what you have to understand is, where is the customer that you need to reach first, that's going to have the most amount of impact on the on the story that you're going to tell. So I can I can tell you currently we we just launched we're kind of two weeks into this awesome collaboration that we did with Doritos Cool Ranch at Papa John's, we launched the Doritos Cool Ranch puppeteer. Now we knew that the Doritos audience is hardcore Gen Z. That is not necessarily an audience, we have our arms fully wrapped around at Papa John's. But we know that the Doritos team does. So we came out of the gate swinging with a very targeted Gen Z approach. And so we start with Gen Z. And then we scale it back out to some of more more of our kind of millennial parent customers that we're talking to right now. And so I think it's a little bit of understanding. If the product is going to reach a certain audience, don't try to go to the the masses from the job. Maybe you eventually scale up to them. But go find your carrier pigeons. That's what I would use as my little soundbite from this, who's going to who's going to carry the content first.

Eric: I love that is a soundbite and I love that as a metaphor. Because one of the ways that I've talked about it or thought about in the past is you need to understand where the pools of attention are for the audience that you're trying to reach. And who owns and controls those pools because it used to be that there was one big ocean and it was the mainstream TV driven media outlets. But now it's so much more fragmented. And I think thinking about it that way of like there's a pocket here, there's a pocket there, there's a pocket over there is really is really part of it. But also your point of who are the people that are going to carry the message into that pool and get that pool talking about it because, you know, Buzz viral talk ability, all of that, if you do it right, it is a chain reaction that ultimately starts somewhere and so actually putting the time and focus on understanding not just where are people spending their time, but who is influencing that time? And can you get them involved in telling the story? I really liked that.

Jaclyn: Yeah, that's right. You know what I always look for, especially with these social platforms. Yeah, I was just gonna say, I you know, and there's probably not the most perfect like it's an engagement metric, right? But I always look for that tags. I'm like these people that tag their friends into the posts, like, you can't tag someone into a TV spot these days, right. And so the powerful nature, you know, it's the share factor. It's, it's like the Ford feature, right? But I look a lot when I look at brands that are doing well, or even on our own, I'm like, how many people are tagging their friends into this post? That, to me is one of those kind of Pinnacle engagement metrics that I like to look for, because that's when you know, you've found some of the right carrier pigeon. Because they're, you know, to your point, like they're all flocking to the content.

Eric: So I did want to ask you about how you measure success when it comes to talk ability. So I really liked that. And I don't I don't think I've heard that before. It's like specifically looking at the number of add tags that you're generating in these campaigns. What are the other metrics that you look at or that you think are important to understand whether or not you're driving talk ability around the brand?

Jaclyn: Yeah, so I've, you know, I've slice and dice this a number of different ways throughout my career, I think it it's unfortunate that the earned media landscape, we still haven't figured out the perfect way to dimensionalize impressions, because there's still the, we got 10 million in pressure, and you know, outlaw and that feels good. And it's a good, big number. But what did those actually do, and I think there's still a struggle in the industry to define that. So maybe one day, we gotta peel off and figure that out, Eric. So here, I like to look, I like to look at a lot of different numbers. I mean, we for a while, when I was at the Martin agency, we looked at what we called an impact ratio. And it was something that we built internally, because ultimately, when I was there, I had started the cultural impacts lab. And we were like, if we're going to encourage these brands to impact culture, we need a way, even if it's a directionally, to say what they're doing. And so ultimately, what we tried to do is show for every dollar spent to buy an impression on their paid media line, we wanted to try and get at least two, three fold over that. So whatever we went out into the marketplace with, you can't, you know, you got to have some of that paid gas pedal that you push down with the goal was is that we have unlocked a cultural insight, we're going to tap into a community that's going to share this. And ultimately, we look to get at least double the amount against what we were spending to buy those eyeballs. Right. And so we talked about that as impact ratio. I think in in some other brands that I worked on throughout the years. And in agency world, a number of people, some people have an attention score, you know, which is an amalgamation of engagement, over media spin with impression, like, they kind of fold everything in together, and then they benchmark against themselves. I'm also seeing, you know, an interesting way to do it, where it goes into more, it's like less quiet and more qual and, and, you know, you're coding stories and conversations around the the mission of the brand, and the pillars of the narratives. So maybe there's three things that you want people to take away from your brand, and your kind of coding each time you go out into the world, whether it's a buzz activation, a storytelling moment, you're coding those against those pillars of the narrative. Because if that's what you want the customer to take away about your brand. That's what you want them to know about you. That's what you want them to, to say about you when they're talking to friends and family, are those pillars of the conversation, the narrative bleeding through into the coverage, right. And that's hard sometimes, especially when you're looking at it to an earned lens, because you can't always control what the headline is going to convey and things like that. But I think I wish there was, you know, a one metric that the whole industry was following, but there's not everybody does it a little bit different. I feel a bit partial to the impact ratio that we were using at at the Martin agency, because I feel like it was actually a really true testament of Did you crack the code of culture? Did you see it to the right community? And every time we did, we would exceed the amount of money we were paying to buy the impressions in the paid media set. And ultimately, that's the counterbalance that you want, right? Because otherwise, you're just a behemoth brand that can outspend everybody and especially when you think about challenger brands, that's often not the case. They often have the smallest budgets in the category and they need the buzz and the stunts and the activations to carry them through when they're defending against big media buys.

Eric: But also it's that constraint that drives the creativity that often leads to these campaigns and executions that get talked about more. And so actually, as you were talking, one of the questions that was kind of framing up in my mind is obviously Papa John's big business massive scale has been super bowl advertiser, I'm sure there's a lot of above the line. How do you think about how this fits into that? Because obviously, they complement each other. And it's nice to have the, you know, the awareness. And probably recall that a Papa John's has has, but a lot of what you're talking about, I would assume is kind of investing in, you know, earned media channels, new media channels, we've talked about Instagram, we've talked about tick tock, are you I don't know if you can share, you can just talk in general, is this something where you're shifting budgets away from kind of traditional above the line to do more of this? Is that required as part of this strategy? How does the media and the budget for your distribution plan and your comms plan? How does that factor into all this?

Jaclyn: Yeah, it's a you know, it's a big debate every single time, I would say, you know, massive shifts, no, but it's about balancing it through the cadence of a campaign, right. So, you know, we could be anywhere from like, four to 12 weeks, depending upon the campaign and the duration that we're going to run. So a lot of times, it's like, what do you come out swinging big and TV and then carry it through sustaining power and social? Do you start in social and then kind of ratchet it up into the TV, so there's balance, right, I think, when you're in QSR, you can't like we can't walk away from TV. Obviously, like, we got to, we got to play there. But I think the other thing that we're trying to do is create a cultural cadence of not just making it about like all food all the time, which is certainly the cornerstone of QSR. Like, you have to create that like mouthwatering credibility. A lot of what I've been talking about, since I've come is this idea of where food meets fandom. And I think a lot about our category. And then you know, other we look a lot outside of our category, you know, like, what is Chipotle doing? What is Burger King doing? What does, you know, we're looking at everybody. And so what I like to think about is, how do we talk about the food itself, that gets people salivating. But also, we have a category that is so universally beloved, like, I don't know anyone in my own circle that doesn't like pizza. And so I think we have such a ripe opportunity, we just have to bring those fans tighter, I'm always like, wrap our arms around these fans and bring them into our family. And so we have to make sure that anytime we're coming to market, we're finding ways to spark the fandom while delivering on on on the food in the crave ability piece of it. And so I think a lot of what we've been trying to do, since I joined, is figure out, where are those moments of fandom? You know? And how do we interject them into we might need to launch a big LTO and put a big product out there that we need to go gangbusters. But how do we just not make it a product play? And how do we find these moments where we can interject the fandom into the the master part of the campaign and it's not just bolted on at the end? It's ingrained and the concept that we come up with.

Eric: So you've talked a lot about how you're approaching this objective in your still relatively new role. And you've actually given some examples of kind of campaigns that you've done even in that short period of time. I'd be curious, is there a case study that you can point to where you can kind of talk us through great here's how it started. Here's what we did here. I don't know if you can share the results but here's the outcome of it within this. We wanted to drive buzz. Here's how we did it.

Jaclyn: Yeah, yeah, this is this is one of my favourite ones because it went really fast. So in the lead up to Super Bowl this past Super Bowl, we are not we did not have a TV spot in the in the game. We have a competitor you know Little Caesars actually owns owns the game there, the NFL partner, pizza partner. So we were kind of keeping an eye on just the rhetoric that was surrounding the game. What I always like to say is it's it's so nice when all of my network and my friends you know, very thoughtfully drop into my DMs quite often. Like when you work in pizza all of a sudden I find like friends are like did you see this? Did you see that? So, a friend of mine sent me the Kelsey brothers podcast, which admittedly, I didn't even know the brothers had a podcast, right? So he was a fan. He was listening. And midway through the podcast, they start randomly talking about Papa John's. And it was pretty it was, it was pretty benign. Like I like to say they were talking about whether or not Papa John's was a pizzeria or not like they were having this whole debate. Well, do you call it a pizzeria? Do you not call it a pizzeria? And it was just this like great brotherly banter and debate. And I don't even know, they didn't really say, like if they liked our brand or not, but I'm like, you know why? We were like, in their mouths, and they were talking about us. So we started floating around with our agency partners. And we were like, there's something here that we could play with, like, do we go get the brothers to do something like, how do we attack this? So the reality was, it was literally two weeks before the game when they did this. And it's like, okay, these guys are focused on the game, you know, they're playing against each other. But as we took a step back and looked at the narrative that was surrounding, everything was about the mom, Mama Kelsey, and everybody was talking about the mom because she literally was like head to toe, like a dividing line of the Kansas City Chiefs in the Philadelphia Eagles gear like her shirts are split in half, she was wearing two different shoes, like everything she did just had this like line drawn down the middle. Now, serendipitously, we serve two specialty pizzas that speak to both of those markets. So we've got a Philly cheesesteak pizza, and we have a barbecue chicken pizza for Kansas City. So in like, literally in a matter of six days, I think took we ran around, we have a test kitchen on site at our headquarters in Atlanta. We went back with the culinary team, and we were like, can you make a pizza and split it down the middle? Which seems easy. When you say it out loud. It's like, yeah, we can make a pizza. But you know, there's two different sauces you have to play with, like the ingredients start bleeding together, we want to make sure it actually tastes good. So we got back there and started playing in the kitchen, which is like a dream, you can just like bring everybody together in a kitchen and like try to figure this out. So ultimately, what happened is, we went to market with Mama Kelsey, with a pizza that we split down the middle for her. And we connected with her team, she was staying in Phoenix where the Super Bowl was, we delivered pizzas to her hotel room, where she she then did a bunch of social content for us. And she was on a media tour herself because all the news was interviewing the mom, you know, just talking to her about like the divided house during the game. So every place she went to go to an interview with local news, we sent them a pizza as well, that was split down the middle. Now ultimately, we would have liked to sell that pizza to customer. But from an operational standpoint, knowing that Super Bowl is such a big like night for us, we couldn't hinder the operation. So what we did is, we were like, Okay, if you're rooting for Philly, you can get x amount of a discount off of the Philly cheesesteak pizza and for Kansas City, the barbeque chicken, but that project alone took us about six days to turn around. And that's all the time we had, right? Because the Super Bowl is the Super Bowl wasn't moving for us, we had to run it that deadline. And so we turned it around in about six days. And I think it had, you know, a few billion

impressions between PR headlines and social media conversations. And it wasn't planned. So I think when you can find those opportunities where you can move, like very fast and very, very nimble. And by the way, I'll recommend that everyone has their legal team on speed dial, I literally text with our lawyer all the time, she was one of the first friends I made when I started this role, to be able to have that Swift, nimble team to pull together with the support of our agency partners to be able to turn that around. That's a lot of the secret of the science, right? Because there's a lot of things that could get in your way. But you got to keep the team tight and it's got to be the right people that can make quick decisions when you're running at a at a cultural moment like that. But I think that was a that was a huge, huge one for us.

And, you know, we had one of the highest performing Superbowl weekend's to date in the history of the company which there were a lot of things happening at that time that contributed to it, but I I feel like this was a little bit of the cherry on top that helped us really move the needle during that time, especially like when you don't have a sponsorship of anything we truly were able to hijack culture

Eric: It is interesting, because it brings me back to the newsroom days, you know, what was it 2011, the Oreo dunk in the dark Super Bowl tweet. And then it was like four or five years of every brand being like, we need a newsroom, we need to do real time marketing, that whole conversation. And the example you just gave is that, but I think what I was thinking about, as you were saying that is I always go back to people don't like advertising, they like good content. And that sometimes comes from brands rarely, because I think marketers tend to ruin a lot of good content. But actually, if you have if you're doing it for the right reasons. And if you're focused on the customer and the culture around the customer, and actually putting something out there that can add value, could be informational, could be entertaining, could be sit like whatever it actually is, if you're focused on adding value to the conversation, I think that's still relevant. But I think the difference is, of course, you see those like tweets, and, you know, organic tech talks and things like that, that do go viral from brands, but I think it's just noisier out there, it's a lot more competitive to put out content that people are going to care about. And so I think the bar is raised and what you like that is not, if this was 10 years ago, you would have just put out a tweet that said, I heard mama cow, you, you know, you would have like mocked it up as an asset. But you actually did the pizza. And so that's kind of where my head was going. And I love that example, and how specific you just talked everybody through exactly how it happened, which is really helpful and interesting for me.

Jaclyn: But I think that's one of the big takeaways from me, serendipity prevailed in that moment, as well. Because give me two other teams in the Super Bowl. And it might like the fact that we had pizza specialty pizza that spoke to those communities, like put two other teams in there, we might not have a pizza that speaks to those, those fandoms. Right, like it just that also just worked in our favour.

Eric: But also you, you know, you create your own serendipity. And one of the quotes I always think about is how can you expand the surface area on which luck will stick to meaning you set yourself up with, you know, like your, your carrier pigeons coming to you about pizza news, I'll have to I'll have to join that flock Actually, I'll start texting you all the pizza related content and conversations that I have. But but then also you had the the culture with the team that you're building, and the communication and the systems set up to be able to actually go do it. And also knowing you I know a big part of it was like you were just going to go get that done. And I'm sure there was an element that was like, You just had to drag it over the line. But sometimes sometimes that's what it takes.

Jaclyn: Absolutely, yeah, it's a little bit of that final grit and grind.

Eric: Totally. I know we're up on time. Let's do a super quick lightning round. Before we let you go, what is one of the biggest wins? I mean, you've talked about a bunch of them, but what's one of the biggest wins you've had recently?

Jaclyn: Yeah, I'd say launching this culinary collaboration the Doritos cool rants Papa dia.

Eric: I saw on your Instagram I saw so the NBA players wearing the shirt.

Jaclyn: So the tunnel the tunnel drip the tunnel drip was real.

Eric: What is one of the biggest struggles you're dealing with right now.

Jaclyn I think it's just conjuring up everybody to be brave, and to kind of push on what it means to be a breakthrough marketer.

Eric: Love that best marketing resource you found recently.

Jaclyn: I am currently a huge fan of all things brand innovators. So they are reimagining getting people back together on the ground and these physical pop ups all over the country and I think they are nailing it.

Eric: The biggest lesson you've learned in your career.

Jaclyn: Listen period

Eric: What's one thing people should do differently after listening to this episode?

Jaclyn: I think go back go back to your teams and kind of embolden the bravery. And go find your carrier pigeon.

Eric: And lastly, what's your favourite Papa John's pizza?

Jaclyn Oh, all right. Epic stuffed crust pepperoni.

Eric: I'm really hungry right now of course, the garlic for this conversation.

Eric: Alright, Jacqueline, I gotta let you go. Thank you so much. As always, it's a pleasure talking to you. I really enjoyed this conversation. I think our audience is gonna get a lot out of it. Thank you so much, and go Celtics. Awesome. Let's do it again soon.

Scratch is a production of rival. We are a marketing innovation consultancy that helps businesses develop strategies and capabilities to grow faster. If you want to learn more about us check out If you want to connect with me, email me at or find me on LinkedIn. If you enjoyed today's show, please subscribe, share with anyone you think might enjoy it. And please do leave us a review. Thanks for listening and see you next week.

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