If you’ve walked by the water cooler at work this week, you’ve most likely engaged with Pedro from IT on whether or not another Tom Brady Super Bowl victory will further cement his legacy as the greatest NFL player ever. Or if Matt Ryan’s juggernaut Falcons offense can shine under the national spotlight. Or if eating too much seven-layer bean dip is probable cause to call off work on Monday.

And above the water cooler, you’ve likely seen a canvas of squares affixed with a Sharpie where colleagues take turns scribbling their names next to numbers, channeling their inner Nostradamus and attempting to predict the score of the game at the end of each quarter.


Playing “Squares” on Super Bowl Sunday is perhaps the second-most popular game-day pastime right next to consuming food and drink to the brink of cardiac arrest.

This year “Squares” is being re-introduced with a digital twist because Yahoo’s partnership with Pizza Hut to launch Squares Pick’em, the first digital game of its kind on Yahoo Sports. 

Sports fans can sign up for the new Squares Pick’em game and fill out their grids through the Yahoo Fantasy app and desktop experience. After signing up, users can invite friends to pick Pizza Hut-themed boxes on a 10-by-10 grid. A chat feature supports the game, giving users a chance to interact with each other. Similar to Yahoo Fantasy Football, commissioners in Squares Pick’em can set up private leagues and establish settings.

Pizza Hut is branching out to digital on the biggest day of the year for fans, brands and marketers alike; it’s a recipe for a strong multi-channel campaign for companies who want a slice of the audience pie. The sponsored fantasy sports game puts the brand, which sells over two million pizzas and accumulates 70 percent of online orders through mobile devices on Super Bowl Sunday, in front of a highly engaged audience. Pizza Hut sold $12 million worth of pizza through digital channels for the game last year. They will also feature a pre-game ad starring Star Trek actor George Takei. Pizza Hut has also sponsored ESPN fantasy football for several years and has introduced packaging innovation that was a ploy for football fans.

Kathy Kayse, vice president of Yahoo’s sales strategy and solutions, joined [a]listdaily to talk about how digital engagement is as much a part of the experience as the game itself.

Why is it important to give fans a second-screen experience during the Super Bowl? Why do you think activations like this will work?

It’s clear that the sports viewing experience has changed, and fans are increasingly looking for new ways to stay engaged with and around the game online—especially when it comes to such a major sporting event. Yahoo has a long history in fantasy sports, a massive audience of sports fans, and a unique take on this ‘game within the game.’ Squares Pick’em is a fun, interactive game that is meant to enhance the viewing experience with friends, family and colleagues.

Why was Pizza Hut the best partner for this promotion?

We’re excited to partner with Pizza Hut this year and create a fun way for the brand to connect with passionate sports fans and potential customers on Yahoo. It’s a way for Pizza Hut to increase engagement with fans and be part of the conversation in the lead-up to the game. Ultimately, we’re offering this new game during the most watched sporting event of the year, and the busiest day of the year for Pizza Hut. Now fans can enjoy Pizza Hut pizza and play Squares Pick’em while they watch.

Kathy Kayse, vice president of Yahoo’s sales strategy and solutions
Kathy Kayse, vice president of Yahoo’s sales strategy and solutions

Why do you think chain restaurants are going the route of gaming to reach consumers?

Last year, Pizza Hut set a digital sales record during the big game when fans headed to its digital ordering options. Digital gaming experiences like Squares Pick’em can be a really effective way to not only engage with but create meaningful connections with consumers where they’re spending time, whether on desktop or mobile.

How will you execute the display, search and email advertising marketing ahead of the game to drive sign-ups for the Squares Pick’em game on Yahoo Sports?

Yahoo offers a wide range of advertising opportunities across its properties and, for this particular campaign, Pizza Hut will be featured in display, search and email ads that will help drive sign-ups for Squares Pick’em on Yahoo Sports. We will also promote the new game on Yahoo through our blogs Shutdown Corner, RotoArcade and additional NFL editorial.

How does this game tie into Yahoo’s overall fantasy sports strategy?

We have an incredibly passionate audience that comes back to play Yahoo Fantasy Sports year after year. Yahoo Fantasy Sports has tens of millions of registered users across all of its games and they spend over 30 billion minutes playing fantasy sports every year on our site. We’re focused on bringing these sports fans new ways to enjoy the game day experience and that’s where Squares Pick’em comes in.

How are digital and second-screen experiences changing the way sports are consumed?

Watching sports is now a true multi-screen experience. Fans are turning to online and mobile content before, during and after the game to look for news, highlights, gaming and more. For the big game, digital engagement is just as much a part of the viewing experience as the game itself.

How will you measure the success of Squares Pick’em to perhaps bring a second installment next year?

This is a brand-new game on Yahoo Fantasy Sports this year, so we’ll look at a number of different aspects from user engagement and sign ups to overall user feedback because ultimately we want to create a gaming experience that our users really enjoy playing.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan