As franchise brands navigate the pandemic, brand culture increases in importance. Strong brand health depends on community involvement, which will continue to accelerate as we enter this new, post-COVID era.
For Marco’s Pizza, a leading national pizza brand with more than 950 locations, its ‘People-First’ cultural belief serves as a guiding light as franchisees across the nation step up to support their communities and make a positive impact. An open letter from company President and COO Tony Libardi kickstarted and encouraged more of these hyper-local giveback initiatives by proclaiming to consumers, “You can count on Marco’s Pizza.”
As a result, franchisees continue to “Take Action” (another cultural pillar), unleashing numerous community giveback programs such as delivering complimentary meals to healthcare workers and first responders, establishing 501c3 nonprofit organizations, supporting community members with free meals, and more. As consumers continue to take comfort in pizza, Marco’s helps to create and celebrate life’s little moments powered by pizza - #DeliveringMemories.
Free School Lunches: Nick Morgan, a multi-unit Marco's franchisee operating in Northwest Arkansas, helped spark a movement via a Facebook post that has now been shared more than 12,000 times, helping spread the word about where families can find free lunches while schools in Arkansas are closed due to COVID-19. Since the post, Morgan has provided more than 3,500 lunches to community members while raising more than $12,000 to continue to fuel the initiative.
Establishing a 501c3 “Feed Our Heroes”: Multi-unit Marco’s owner Joe Walker teamed up with South Carolina Football Coach Will Muschamp to establish a 501c3 called “Feed Our Heroes” – collecting community donations to provide meals to thousands of healthcare workers battling COVID-19 on the front lines.
A Birthday Party to Remember: When 8-year-old cancer survivor Addison Sinclair’s 8th birthday party at Marco’s Pizza was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, owner Bill Martines wanted to make sure she could still celebrate with her friends. Along with her Girl Scout Daisy troop leader, Martines organized a 37-car parade outside Addison’s home, with all her friends and family who had planned to be at the pizza party.
Addison stayed safely in her yard under a tent while the parade went by and she enjoyed her Marco’s Pizza. A “Frozen” lover, Addison also received a special delivery, 4-foot Olaf as a birthday gift from the Marco’s Pizza team.
Robbery Leads to Free Meals for Struggling Community Members: Marco’s Pizza in The Colony, Texas was robbed along with several local businesses. Based on security footage, the burglars appeared to be amateur – not having done something like this before – and didn’t take much, as there wasn’t much money to begin with. Any restaurant owner might be upset by a break in, but owner Chamal Kahanawita, instead, took it as a reminder of the desperate times we are living in and decided to do something to help.
Kahanawita is a believer that no one should have to go to such great lengths to put food on their families’ tables. For that reason, in honor of his daughter turning 1-month old, he welcomed anyone who finds themselves in a situation where they are unable to provide a meal for their family to stop by his restaurants and mention his Facebook post. From there, Marco’s will ensure the family gets a meal.
Pepsi Partnership to Feed Thousands of Healthcare Workers: To make a greater impact, Marco’s owner and area representative, Brad Davis, joined forces with Pepsi to help feed more than 2,500 hospital workers in the greater Knoxville, Tennessee area. He continues to give back to his community by offering free meals to furloughed restaurant workers and their families during these challenging times.
“It has been remarkable to watch our franchise system rally together and support their communities amid this pandemic,” said Libardi. “As I always say to our employees and franchisees, we are in the ‘people’ business - the people and our communities need us now more than ever before.”
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