LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Papa John's is rolling out its Papa's Perfect Pan pizza, a product it calls "the largest and most significant new product roll-out in the company's history and the first new crust offered by the pizza brand in nearly 10 years."

According to a news release, the square pizza features a thick buttery-tasting crust made with olive oil. It also gets "a zesty robusto" sauce with tomato chunks, garlic, Italian herbs and spices. Customers can order a large Perfect Pan with up to five toppings at a special introductory price of just $12.99.

The company spent at least three-and-a-half years testing the pizza in its Wichita, Kan., outlets (read also Deep dish pizza gets trial at Papa John's.) Not ironically, Wichita is home to Frank Carney, founder of Pizza Hut, and one of Papa John's largest franchisees. According to a 2002 Dow-Jones

Papa's Perfect Pan pizza

news report, Carney had pushed for a pan pizza for several years.

This year also marks the 25th anniversary of Pizza Hut's introduction of Pan Pizza, a pet project of Carney's before he retired from the chain in 1980. In 2002, he told PizzaMarketplace that Pan Pizza was Pizza Hut's most successful menu addition ever. (Read also Who's Who: Frank Carney.)

Deep promotion

Helping market the new pie is retired Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino. The Hall of Famer will appear in a national advertising campaign encompassing television, print and radio. On Sept. 30, Marino and Papa John's founder John Schnatter will do a special promo event in New York's Times Square.

"As our sales momentum continues to rise, we are always looking for ways to please our current customers as well as to attract new ones," said Papa John's president and chief executive, Nigel Travis. "Sales of Papa's Perfect Pan have been impressive in our test markets, and customer satisfaction has been outstanding."

Papa John's also is running a "GO DEEP for a Chance to Win" contest centered on the Oct. 2 ESPN telecast of the Arizona Cardinals v. San Francisco 49ers football game from Mexico City. By logging onto godeep.papajohns.com prior to or during the game, football fans will have a chance to win a Papa John's food prize by predicting which team will be the first to throw either a 25-yard touchdown pass or make a 50-yard pass completion. The winner gets one Papa's Perfect Pan pizza per week through the conclusion of the pro football season in February.

Papa John's operators will conduct local marketing efforts centered on high school, college and professional games in their areas. Tailgate parties, stadium promotions and radio contests will offer fans opportunities to win Papa's Perfect Pan Pizza Parties for up to 20 people.

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