Papa John’s Leveraged MLB Labour Dispute Via Comic ‘Pre-Season Pizza Pro’ Recruitment Drive

Papa Johns MLB Recruitment Ad 1

Papa John’s, which became the Official Pizza of Major League Baseball (MLB) in 2016, launched a silly (yet simultaneously serious) promotion on 1 March which pitched a job proposition directly to striking baseball stars inviting players to join the Papa John’s team.


Launched on 1 March, the unofficial beginning of spring, to coincide with the traditional start of MLB Spring Training preseason, the campaign leverages the labour dispute between the league and the MLB Players Association which put the start of Spring Training on hold and the regular season opening pitch up in the air.


The tongue-in-cheek campaign targeted players ‘searching for the fulfilment that only labour/work can bring’ through a recruitment ad from the brand seeking ‘Pre-Season Pizza Pros’ who understand ‘the value of teamwork in any roster’.


The job description for Papa Johns’ new ‘Pre-Season Pizza Pro’ position for locked out baseball players (posted on the jobs page of the brand’s website) included several interesting benefits:

> A ceiling

> A different hat

> No push-ups or running laps

> Never being pelted by a 90mph fastball

> Opportunities for career advancement

> Leadership programs and the Dough & Degrees tuition benefit program


While responsibilities included:

> Performing dough-to-sauce-to-cheese-to-toppings-to-oven quintuple plays daily

> Minimizing errors (dropping a ball is bad, but a stack of XL pizzas is a different story)

> Coming to work with your game face on. And an apron. Mostly the apron.

> No stealing (we’re not interested in all of your usual skills)

> Managing a fast-paced working environment (but no sprinting in cleats on the linoleum floor, please)

> Arriving on time (three strikes, and you’re out)


The listing ad steered people to the online recruitment page at and stated:


“Hey, pro ball players! Too much time on your hands these days? Get out of the dugout and into some dough when you sign-up for an exciting new position at Papa Johns. Are you a pro ball player who’s been feeling like you’re stuck on the bench due to a prolonged off season? Has your patience reached the bottom of the ninth? Do you miss being on your team? On ANY team? If this sounds like you, then it’s time to hang up the helmet and head over to Papa John’s, where we’re inviting you to join the pizza big leagues as our new Pre-Season Pizza Pro, an exciting new role which will put your talents back to good use.”



The campaign included an online video amplified across the brand’s social channels featuring athlete ambassadors and Atlanta Braves stars Dansby Swanson (shortstop) and Joc Pederson (outfielder) working a shift at a local Papa John’s location in Marietta.



Applicants were invited to submit a resume, list of references, or just a baseball card with the player’s name and face on it – signed, preferably.





2022 hasn’t been a normal off-season for MLB as the league was forced to delay Spring Training and postpone opening day for the first time in 27 years amid a labour dispute between owners and players.


Of course, despite the labour dispute, there won’t be any players officially taking up Papa John’s offer. After all, the average earnings for MLB players last season was a whopping $4m. But if any did, the pizza fast food chain could probably afford it as February saw Papa John’s report fourth-quarter profit and revenue above analyst expectations with net income up to $24.6m and revenue up 12.6% year-on-year.


But we still like the thought of a professional ballplayer working in a pizza chain and can’t help but imagine Fernando Tatis Jr or Mike Trout showing up at the door with an extra-large, thin-crust American Hot pizza.


On 10 March MLB finally reached a five-year agreement with the MLBPA ending the second-longest stoppage in its history and announced that the season would begin on 7 April (it had originally been scheduled to start on 31 March).





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