It seems Papa John's 3-year partnership with the NFL is paying off. According to the seventh annual NFL sponsor awareness survey by Turnkey Intelligence, the pizza chain was the brand most identified by fans.

Turnkey Intelligence's survey was conducted for SportsBusiness Journal/Daily.

"We are very humbled by our results with the NFL and are flattered to be mentioned in the same company as great brands such as Gatorade and Pepsi," said John Schnatter, Papa John's founder, chairman and CEO. "I think this is attributable to the collaborative relationship we have with our franchisees, our corporate operators and our customers. Furthermore, I'd be remiss not to give a shout-out to our fantastic marketing team and our relationship with Peyton Manning and Jim Nantz."

According to the survey, more than 62 percent of fans correctly identified Papa John's as the official pizza of the NFL, representing a 13 percent increase over 2012. That increase was the largest change among all 68 brands measured in the survey.

Manning was featured in Papa John's Super Bowl promotions both in 2012 and this year, which included a pizza giveaway for fans calling the game's coin toss. In October 2012, he signed on to become a franchisee, with plans to open 21 Papa John's units in the Denver area.

Sports commentator Nantz joined the marketing campaign for this year's Super Bowl coin toss promotion.

"Our partnership with the powerful NFL brand and our relationship with Peyton Manning and Jim Nantz have been focused on driving quality brand equity while building a rapport with the great fans of the NFL," said Andrew Varga, Papa John's chief marketing officer. "Our strategy has been successful, in part, because we've been able to leverage many of the NFL brand assets as well, including being the Official Pizza of about half of the NFL teams, and partnering with Peyton Manning on a season-long ad campaign."

During Papa John's most recent earnings call, executives announced the brand's partnership with the NFL has been extended, but did not disclose terms of the agreement.

Read more about marketing, branding and promotions.

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