Case Study: Papa Murphy’s Pandemic-Friendly Portable Structures for Pizza Month

The take-and-bake pizza pioneer’s drive-thru activation offered Dallas locals an upgrade from frozen to fresh (never frozen) pizza
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The take-and-bake pizza pioneer’s drive-thru activation offered Dallas locals an upgrade from frozen to fresh (never frozen) pizza

What’s more fun than Pizza Month? If you’re Papa Murphy’s Pizza, you ice out the frozen pizza competition and invite consumers to visit a local Dallas store to trade in their frozen pizzas for a fresh (never frozen) Papa Murphy’s pizza. The pizza swap was one part of a Pizza Month campaign Dallas-based advertising agency The Marketing Arm (TMA) developed for its client in the fall of 2020.

How did the Pizza Month activation come about?

We asked Erin Price, Account Supervisor at The Marketing Arm, for some insight. “We were looking to do some different activations for Papa Murphy’s—whether socially or experiential—for Pizza Month, which happens in October of every year. Spinning off of the Pizza Month theme, it started as a fun campaign, a search for the oldest frozen pizza, where we would play off of Papa Murphy’s ‘fresh is better than frozen’ messaging,” Price says.

Price and her team started with a social activation, where people could submit their expiration dates from pizza boxes in their freezers through Twitter and tagging Papa Murphy’s. Entrants had a shot at winning a year’s worth of Papa Murphy’s pizza, along with other tasty treats you’d want to stock your freezer with, like Cold Stone Creamery ice cream.

How did TMA pull off a public, in-person event during a pandemic?

To expand on the Pizza Month campaign, the TMA team decided to add the drive-thru activation, where people could drive up to the store and exchange a frozen pizza for a fresh Papa Murphy’s pizza. They just needed to figure out the logistics.

That’s when TMA reached out to The Trade Group (TTG). As Price explains, “Colleagues of mine have worked with The Trade Group in the past. One of our team members worked on another account using the portable structures TTG provides and said they would be perfect for the drive-thru activation.”

The original concept was to use one structure for the drive-thru but keeping brand ambassadors and customers safe during the pandemic was top of mind.

According to Price, “Finding ways to be as COVID-conscious as possible in our ideation was essential. The search for the oldest pizza ran completely online through social channels. With the drive-thru, we wondered, how can we be as responsible as possible and still accomplish the pizza upgrade and not disrupt the store’s normal business? We also had a budget and tight time frame to consider.”

TTG Senior Sales Consultant Kevin Colis collaborated with the TMA team to come up with a solution. “People are struggling to figure out how to safely activate and connect with buyers and consumers right now, and it can be challenging. When TMA came to us with the idea, I was excited to work on it and help make it a reality. They had seen our portable event structures and came to me with the general concept using those units. I knew we had a solution that would work right away, using two of our Express Portables,” Colis says.

Prominent branding and functionality were key to the Papa Murphy’s activation

Colis recommended using two 8’x8’ Express Portable A structures for the event. As he explains, “Our Express Portable A unit was a perfect fit for this activation. We knew branding was important to the client, which makes these structures ideal. You can literally skin every inch of the units with branded graphics, and in an outdoor setting you can spot the units from afar. The unique, European design is also attractive and quick to draw the eye.”

The fact that the structures are easy to customize, set up and configure, also helped simplify the execution of the event. During initial talks between TMA and TTG, the location for the activation wasn’t finalized, so flexibility from an installation standpoint was important.

Using two units instead of one also helped keep the brand ambassadors safe and social distanced, since they didn’t need to share a confined space. The two-unit strategy also upped the fun factor because customers would drive up to the first unit to drop off their frozen pizza and the second unit to pick up the fresh Papa Murphy’s pie. TMA designed custom graphics that made it easy to distinguish between the two.

Another distinguishing feature between the drop-off and pick-up units were the customer-facing windows. The drop-off unit used a custom, one-way window with a slot to insert the frozen pizza but no way for guests to see the employee inside. The pick-up window in the second unit featured a clear acrylic window, so customers could see the brand ambassador and make more of a personal connection, while retrieving their pizza through the “delivery slot.”

Collaboration between TMA and TTG resulted in a successful activation and donation to charity

Of the activation, Price says, “Along with being a lot of fun, it was nice to get out and do an activation and be responsible at the same time—where people could stay socially safe and distant. People who were shopping at a nearby Walmart saw the activity at the drive-thru and stopped by to see what was going on, so we were busy most of the day. We ended up giving away 250 pizzas that day, both to people who frequent the store and others who had never been to Papa Murphy’s before. We also donated about 100 frozen pizzas to a local McKinney charity, which was terrific.”

Due to the fast turnaround on the project—under six weeks—Price was also pleased with how smoothly the activation went and for the collaboration on all fronts. TMA’s creative team pulled out all of the stops, and TTG handled the custom graphics printing, customization, delivery, installation and tear down.

“Everything went really smooth, even with tight timelines. The client really responds quickly, and our creative team stepped up. TTG also made it very easy and painless for our team. Knowing how rush jobs can be, it was going so smooth I thought something was going to happen but it didn’t. Considering how fast we had to move it went really seamless,” Price says.

From his part Colis says, “I personally thought it was an excellent concept and want to acknowledge The Marketing Arm team for coming up with the idea for this activation. It was a very creative way to activate, especially in the midst of a pandemic. I was grateful to be a part of it and happy we could help come up with a solution that proved successful.”

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If your company or agency would like to learn more about customizable, pandemic friendly portable structures and other ways to enhance social distancing and safety at an upcoming event, contact The Trade Group at 800-343-2005 to learn more. You can also visit our COVID-19 Resources page for details on our PPE and safety solutions.

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