Pizza Hut channels challenger brand mentality and pledges more marketing creativity

Pizza Hut will act more like a challenger brand in its marketing this year with more creativity and innovation as it aims to topple rival Dominos, with a new Australia Day campaign centred around a Vegemite-crust pizza the first piece in the puzzle.

The brave new campaign, the first from agency Host since it took over the account in November from M&C Saatchi, sees a series of foreign backpackers trying the Mitey Stuffed Crust pizza with verdicts ranging from “shit” to “that’s disgusting” and like “petrol”, but ending with two Aussies enjoying it.

Pizza Hut’s head of marketing Fatima Syed told Mumbrella the campaign, which is only running on social media and digital channels, was based on the insight “you’ve got to be Australian to truly appreciate Vegemite”.

She added: “If you didn’t grow up with it, you don’t understand what it is. There’s nothing more Australian than Vegemite and cheese.”

Syed said she did not find it hard to commission an ad criticising the product “because it was so true to the insight”. 

“As a marketer you feel comfortable when innovation is based on a true consumer insight – when it is consumers get it. that for me was the most important thing.”

The ad has been picked up by news outlets across the globe and widely shared on social media, picking up 112,000 YouTube views already. Syed said the reaction had been “incredibly positive”.

“We’ve had lots of non-Australians saying they don’t get it, but we get what you’re doing,” she said.

The PR aspect of the campaign had “exceeded my expectations”,  Syed admitted. “As a challenger brand it’s important to have consumers talking about the brand, and it’s important to be relevant and stay top of mind. We want to be attainable and relevant to our audience.”

And while the novel products, such as the Mighty Crust or recent Doritos crust pizzas, may not be overly profitable, Syed said innovative and novel products were important for fast food brands as they drove people into stores and “got them coming back and purchasing again”.

She said being part of a global company allowed them to tap into markets from across the world, and “in particular those markets that are more like Australia”.

The campaign is being run on digital and social as the company looks to boost its digital channels, which currently account for around 40 per cent of sales. Syed pointed to mobile as a major growth area for them with “more investment in that space” this year.

She indicated the new approach does not necessarily mean the end to the ongoing price war with Dominos, which last year saw a group of franchisees take Pizza Hut to court to stop them lowering prices, but would see more creativity brought into its traditionally retail-based approach.

“The pizza market in particular is highly competitive,” she said. “For us will need to ensure we’re really aware of what’s happening in the market and all the competitor activity. At the end of the day we’re focussed on runing our own race.

“From our perspective while offering value is important we are making sure 2015 is action packed and we have a lot of ideas which are out of the box. We’ve got a lot of innovative news coming.”

Alex Hayes


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