The Pizza Guys chain announced Monday it has named Sacramento Kings shooting guard Ben McLemore as the company’s spokesman, hoping to continue the momentum generated by point guard Isaiah Thomas endorsing their product the last two years.
“Pizza Guys has been around since 1986,” said Mike Morgan, vice president of operations for the Rancho Cordova-based chain. “We have more stores in the greater Sacramento area than any of our competition, but…there’s still people around here that don’t really know who we are.”
For the record, Pizza Guys has 62 stores – 59 of them in Northern California, two in Oregon and one in Nevada.
Founders Shahpour Nejad and Reza Kalantari looked to raise the company’s profile in its own territory by sealing a sponsorship deal with the Kings and getting a well-known player to pitch their product to fans.
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Morgan said that franchisees reported an increase in traffic from people who heard about the chain because of Thomas and the ‘I’m A Pizza Guy’ campaign. Fans began to shout the ‘Pizza Guy’ moniker at Thomas whether he was making a play on the court or strolling through a busy airport, Morgan said. The relationship ended when Thomas was sent to the Phoenix Suns in a sign-and-trade deal in July.
“When we decided to partner up with Isaiah Thomas,” Morgan said, “we knew that he was a person.. growing in this area. His notoriety was growing, and we felt like we’d get visibility from attaching ourselves to him. He’s a good guy, and Ben is a further extension of that. He’s a down-to-earth guy, and he does like our pizza.”
McLemore actually ordered the chain’s pizza before Pizza Guys ever approached him with a deal, Morgan said.