The NCAA basketball tournament is typically one of the busiest times of the year for the pizza business. Plenty of brands anticipate a rush again this year, as they introduce promotions to attract hoops fans ahead of the men's tournament tip off Thursday.
Domino's Pizza marks its third year as the Official Pizza of NCAA March Madness by offering 50-percent off all pizzas ordered online all week, through Sunday. The deal is good for those who use the code "50off" while checking out through Domino's digital ordering channels, which include online, mobile site and iPhone, Android and Kindle Fire apps.
Additionally, Domino's Pizza is offering the "NCAA March Madness Perfect Combo" from now through April 14. The limited-time combo includes two medium, one-topping pizzas, a 16-piece order of Parmesan Bread Bites, an order of Cinna Stix and a 2-liter bottle of Coca-Cola for $19.99.
Domino's sold more than 1.7 million pizzas during the NCAA Men's Final Four and NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship game days last year. The first day of the Final Four is regularly one of the top 10 Saturdays for company sales.
Fans who sign up for Pizza Hut's Hut Lovers program (PizzaHut.com/HutLovers) will receive a free medium, one-topping pizza if all four No. 1 seeds advance to the men's semifinals in Atlanta April 6-8.
If the No. 1 seeds survive their bracket, Hut Lovers' members will receive a coupon via email to redeem the free pizza. The No. 1 seeds all advanced to the Final Four in the NCAA tournament once before, in 2008.
Pizza Hut has signed former Duke All-American and current University of Rhode Island coach Bobby Hurley as its spokesperson for this promotion.
Little Caesars is offering basketball fans a chance to receive a free order of Crazy Bread at participating restaurants on April 8 if the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament features a Cinderella upset.
If any 16-seeded team beats a 1-seeded team in the games played on March 21-22, the tournament's first round, Little Caesars will give away one free Crazy Bread to every family that mentions the offer at the store.
Although Papa John's saves its biggest campaigns for the NFL season, the brand is celebrating the return of March Madness with a free pizza giveaway for those who place an order for $11 or more at papajohns.com. The promotion began today with a national television commercial featuring Papa John's Founder, John Schnatter, with John Calipari, head coach of the defending national champion Kentucky Wildcats, and veteran sportscaster, Jim Nantz.
From now through April 8, those who go to papajohns.com, enter the promo code HOOPS, and place an order for $11 or more, excluding taxes and delivery fees where applicable, will earn a free large pizza with up to three toppings on a future order. The free pizza must be redeemed by April 28.
The commercial touting the free pizza promotion features the return of Nantz, who most recently appeared with Schnatter and Peyton Manning in Papa John's Super Bowl commercial, and Calipari, who has been a long-time partner of Papa John's.
Minsky's Pizza is offering the chance to win $1,000 worth of pizza to those who join its VIP list and fill out an online bracket.
BoomBozz is providing game day specials on craft beer and select menu items. Additionally, the brand has unveiled its newest offering — the All American Steak and Potato Pizza — just in time for March Madness. The pizza includes house-made steak sauce, steak, rosemary roasted potatoes, fire-roasted peppers and onions, and is topped with mozzarella and asiago cheese.
In celebration of March Madness, Jet's Pizza began promoting its BBQ Madness on March 1. The large BBQ Chicken pizza is topped with mozzarella, grilled chicken, red onions, bacon and Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce.
Donatos Pizza has added a tournament bracket on its Facebook page and is asking fans to pick their Final Four.
Pizza Inn is hosting a bracket of its own, asking fans to vote for their "favorite way to enjoy Pizza Inn: Home (carryout) or Buffet (dine-in)." The Inn2Win promotion includes a coupon for those who participate through Facebook.
St. Louis' Imo's Pizza is offering its 5-Classic Imo's Pizza Bundle for out-of-town shipments for the special price of $49.99. The deal is good now through April 1 in honor of March Madness (and the Cardinals home baseball opener).
Finally, Godfather's is engaging its Facebook fans with a March Madness theme, posting "If we had a pizza bracket, our Taco Pizza would deserve to be the No. 1 seed. LIKE if you agree. COMMENT if you disagree."
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Alicia Kelso has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with QSRweb.com and PizzaMarketplace.com has been featured in publications around the world, including Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, Consumerist.com and Franchise Asia magazine.