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Pizza Is the Latest Victim of This Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Election

Ah pizza—you’re such a compassionate soul. Not only do you provide us with delicious sustenance as we feast on your cheesy flesh, you also share our pain during these most difficult of times.
November 7, 2016, 9:15am

If there is one thing to take away from this election, it's that democracy is a sordid affair. During an election, tensions can soar to unprecedented heights. Divisions can be deep and long lasting. And stability is, at least for a short period of time, most certainly lessened.

But there is one singular victim of the collateral damage of an election year that simply must be addressed. Of course, we're talking about the unrivaled testament to humanity that is pizza.

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Earlier this week, the CEO of Papa Murphy's, the Washington-based chain of 1,500 take-and-bake pizza stores, announced their third-quarter results and blamed a decline of sales, at least partially, on the high cost of advertising during an election cycle.

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The day after the report was released, the publicly traded company's shares plummeted 23.4 percent down to $4.02. "We had a disappointing quarter, as the increasingly competitive environment, both in the pizza category and more broadly, magnified the effects of lower absolute media levels in this presidential election year," explained CEO Ken Calwell.

He's talking about the cost of buying advertising.

Sure, within the modern food industry, there's been plenty of talk about the harm this election cycle has brought about. Hell, only a few weeks ago, the CEO's for both Dunkin' Brands Group Inc. and BJ's Restaurants Inc. publicly stated that the election has sowed the seeds of uncertainty among consumers and actively hurt sales figures.

But during an election year, the cost of buying advertising time skyrockets, thanks to the candidates—and the mega PACs associated with them—gobbling up advertising time, particularly on television. Chains like Papa Murphy's, which rely on TV ads to bring in the pizza buyers, can be negatively affected in a big way. That the election this year was preceded by Olympics hasn't helped.

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Calwell said, "Media is an immensely important driver of our business." He's attributing the 5.6 percent decrease in franchisee-owned store sales, and a whopping 7.7 percent decrease in company-owned store sales, to the high cost of buying ad time in an election year. Dunkin' Donuts has said franchise openings have slowed in this election year, but Domino's is doing just fine, thank you. They said back in October that sales were up 13 percent over last year.

Papa Murphy's has a remedy for the doldrums their stores are suffering, though: a media blitz in the new year. They plan to launch a six-week campaign for the first time in their history.

Ah, pizza—you're such a compassionate soul. Not only do you provide us with delicious sustenance as we feast on your cheesy flesh, you also share our pain during these most difficult of times.