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Shaq has boosted Papa John's advertisement engagement by more than 30%

Zack Guzman
Senior Writer

After getting called out this week by an advisory firm for missing too many Papa John’s board meetings, Shaquille O’Neal might be feeling the pressure to prove his worth.

The former NBA star has been raking in some of the more than $4.1 million he’s slated to earn over three years as a Papa John’s (PZZA) spokesperson and more than $4 million in restricted stock units as a board member. But after facing pressure from investors for missing more than 25% of the company’s board meetings, that got us wondering whether or not Shaq has been pulling his NBA-sized weight at the pizza giant.

According to data provided by advertising analytics platform EDO, which show Shaq ads to be more effective at driving customer engagement, the answer seems to be a resounding “Yes.”

Looking specifically at the relative online searches performed by viewers immediately following a Papa John’s ad featuring Shaq, customers were up to 37% more likely to search for Papa John’s following a Shaq ad than a competing pizza commercial. Furthermore, customers were up to 30% more likely to search for the brand after seeing a Papa John’s ad featuring Shaq than they were to search for the brand after seeing a non-Shaq ad.

Shaq's Papa John's advertisements appear to be more effective at driving engagement than both Papa John's non-Shaq ads and the overall category, according to data from advertising analytics platform EDO.

The Shaq advertisements and his appointment to the company’s board in 2019 followed the resignation of Papa John’s founder John Schnatter, who stepped down after reportedly using the n-word on a company conference call. The company spent up to $50 million scrubbing Schnatter’s image from the brand and moved forward with Shaq as the outward face of the company. Now, his ads seem to be working.

“It shows that that was an incredibly effective campaign at driving engagement, driving a change in how people are thinking about that brand,” EDO CEO Kevin Krim told Yahoo Finance.

Whether or not that means Shaq makes a better spokesperson than he does a board member remains to be seen. For its part, Papa John’s did say in a company filing that it did not expect Shaq’s “scheduling conflicts to recur in 2020.”

Zack Guzman is the host of YFi PM as well as a senior writer and on-air reporter covering entrepreneurship, cannabis, startups, and breaking news at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @zGuz.

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