Pizza Hut brand strategy / positioning case study

BrandStruck
Pizza Hut Brand Strategy Analysis
Pizza Hut
ABOUT

Category:
Restaurantscasual restaurants, fast food chains

Owner of the brand:
Yum! Brands, Inc.

Key competitors:
McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, Papa John’s

Brand essence

An original American pizza restaurant.

Brand values

Taste, togetherness, innovation.

Brand character

Friendly, casual, approachable, unpretentious, pioneering.

EVIDENCE
Comments
1

Pizza Hut has been traditionally positioned in a challenging spot – somewhere between casual restaurants and fast food chains – having to fight both on price and quality. After years of unsatisfactory sales, the brand has made a few attempts to reinvent itself and tell its consumers a different story. However, its repositioning efforts have looked different in the US and in the UK.

2

In the US, in 2014, Pizza Hut went through a rebranding process, the objective of which was to attract the millennial consumer. Together with the new visual identity, the company extended its menu to include more exotic toppings (e.g., Peruvian cherry peppers), crusts (e.g., pretzel stuffed crust) and sauces (e.g., honey sriracha), and launched the “Flavor of Now” campaign[1] putting emphasis on its innovative approach to making pizza. Jared Drinkwater, Vice President of National Marketing at Pizza Hut US commented: “As we looked to bring more flavor to pizza, we looked at our entire marketing strategy and felt it was time to bring more flavor to pretty much everything.[2]

3

In 2015, the company admitted that the relaunch was not successful due to the fact that too much focus was put on millennials. Greg Creed, CEO of Yum! Brands said: “Unfortunately, we haven’t been as effective as we’ve liked with our marketing and need to balance its appeal to millennials with mainstream pizza customers.[3]

4

In 2016, Pizza Hut changed its positioning in the US again with the “No One OutPizzas The Hut” campaign[4], this time underlining both the brand’s leadership and its humbleness. Scott Bell, Group Creative Director at Droga5 (the agency responsible for the new direction) explained to Adweek: “They have a lot of things to brag about. They practically invented pizza as we know it. They were the first to allow you to order pizza online, the first to deliver pizza to the White House, the first to deliver pizza to the space station. There’s a lot of love for Pizza Hut in the world. But they’ve never bragged about these things, because they really are a humble company. They don’t want to come off as arrogant in any way. So, we wanted to be able to brag on their behalf.[5] A few years later, this “humble” approach was changed again as the company realized that in order to succeed, it needed to be bolder and less apologetic. “No One OutPizzas The Hut” is still the brand’s communication platform but the tone of voice is much more confident. Marianne Radley, Pizza Hut’s Chief Brand Officer admitted that in recent years the company has lost sight of where it comes from and explained the brand’s proposition: “Pizza Hut is … an American, iconic classic that’s ingrained in people’s hearts and minds. We attest that to the fact we really were the original pizza company – the first national pizza chain – and we’re celebrating that with a little more of a confident and unapologetic tone.[6]

5

In the UK, Pizza Hut also underwent a revamp: a new menu was introduced, most of the restaurants got refurbished and the “Taste Freedom” campaign[7] was launched in 2015. Pizza Hut’s understanding of ‘freedom’ was twofold: freedom of choice (thanks to more items on the menu) and freedom to be yourself at Pizza Hut’s restaurants. Kathryn Austin, Pizza Hut Restaurants UK’s Marketing Director told Campaign: “Whether it’s eating with your elbows on the table or ditching the knife and fork, we want our customers to relax, sit back and enjoy themselves to the max whenever they visit any of our Huts.[8] At the beginning of 2019, the company began using the American tagline “No One OutPizzas The Hut”, changed the logo and started using a bolder tone of voice. Later that year, it announced that it wants to position itself as “the easiest, the fastest and the tastiest pizza brand”[9].

6

Innovation seems to be the key element in Pizza Hut’s brand strategy both in the US and in the UK. The brand not only invents new, adventurous flavours but also launches many technological solutions (e.g., a pizza ordering tattoo[10] or an interactive concept table[11]).

7

Pizza Hut in its communication uses elements of two archetypes: the Regular Guy, as it talks about its approachability, humbleness and accessibility, and the Jester, because it most often uses a humorous tone of voice.

Tagline
Most important campaigns

1. “Now That’s Delivering” (2019, UK)

2. “Pizza Hut Cheesy Bites” (2019, UK)

3. “Oven-Hot Pizza, Fast, Every Time” (2017, US)

4. “Homesick Alien” (2016, US)

5. “Taste Freedom” (2015, UK)

 

Official brand statement:

WHO WE ARE.
There’s nothing cookie-cutter about Pizza Hut. Not our pizzas. Not our people. And definitely not the way we live life. Around here, we don’t settle for anything less than food we’re proud to serve. And we don’t just clock in. Not when we can also become our best, make friends, and have fun while we’re at it. We’re the pizza company that lives life unboxed.

We’re not for people who want to blend in: pushing boundaries is part of our heritage. We have more than 16,000 restaurants and 350,000 team members in more than 100 countries. Whether it’s the original Stuffed Crust or putting a pizza in outer space, we never stop driving ourselves to deliver hot pizzas, fast every time – anywhere you want to enjoy it.

WHAT WE’RE ABOUT.
At Pizza Hut, we don’t just make pizza. We make people happy. Pizza Hut was built on the belief that pizza night should be special, and we carry that belief into everything we do. With more than 60 years of experience under our belts, we understand how to best serve our customers through tried and true service principles: We create food we’re proud to serve and deliver it fast, with a smile.

WHERE WE COME FROM.
In 1958, two brothers borrowed $600 from their mom to open a pizza place in Wichita, Kansas. They named it Pizza Hut, because their sign only had room for eight letters. How profound!
Soon, the restaurant grew. Why? The pizza was awesome. The service felt like home. And the customers were treated like family. And we’ve been delivering that same food and service ever since.

FOR THE LOVE OF PIZZA SINCE 1958.
From day one, the Carney brothers could look their customers in the eye and promise them the finest pizza in town — because they knew the farmers who grew the ingredients, and they knew those farmers cared about quality.

Since then, our farmers have grown right alongside us, and the ingredients we use are still our highest priority. No one loves pizza more than Pizza Hut. That’s why pizza is in our name — and always will be.[12]

Interesting facts:

In 1995, Donald Trump and his ex-wife Ivana starred in a Pizza Hut ad[13] referring to their divorce, which had taken place three years before.

Must-reads

1. Ad Age on Pizza Hut’s strategy in the US
J. Wohl, “Pizza Hut’s Brand Leader: ‘We’re Proud But Dissatisfied’”, Ad Age, Jul 2019,
https://adage.com/article/podcast-marketers-brief/pizza-huts-brand-leader-were-proud-dissatisfied/2181631

2. The Drum on Pizza Hut’s strategy in the UK
I. Watson, “’Easiest, Fastest, Tastiest’: Inside Pizza Hut’s Brand Strategy To Topple Domino’s”, The Drum, Sep 2019,
https://www.thedrum.com/news/2019/09/05/easiest-fastest-tastiest-inside-pizza-huts-brand-strategy-topple-dominos

K. Deighton, “Pizza Hut Revives ‘OG’ Branding To Kickstart Growth: ‘We Lost Sight Of Where We Came From’”, The Drum, Jun 2019,
https://www.thedrum.com/news/2019/06/17/pizza-hut-revives-og-branding-kickstart-growth-we-lost-sight-where-we-came 

3. Adweek on the “No One OutPizzas the Hut” campaign
T. Nudd, “Ad Of The Day: Oddball ‘Bragspeople’ Sing Pizza Hut’s Praises In First Ads From Droga5”, Adweek, Sep 2016,
http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/ad-day-oddball-bragspeople-sing-pizza-huts-praises-first-ads-droga5-173657

Sources:
References:
  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGn8tVs1bO8
  2. B. Lanks, “Pizza Hut Goes Flat With Redesigned Logo”, Bloomberg, Nov 2014, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-11-11/pizza-hut-goes-flat-with-redesigned-logo
  3. R. Ruggless, “Pizza Hut Works To Readjust Brand Overhaul”, Nation’s Restaurant News, May 2015, http://www.nrn.com/pizza-hut/pizza-hut-works-readjust-brand-overhaul
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ed2Rdy7cnc
  5. T. Nudd, “Ad Of The Day: Oddball ‘Bragspeople’ Sing Pizza Hut’s Praises In First Ads From Droga5”, Adweek, Sep 2016, http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/ad-day-oddball-bragspeople-sing-pizza-huts-praises-first-ads-droga5-173657
  6. K. Deighton, “Pizza Hut Revives ‘OG’ Branding To Kickstart Growth: ‘We Lost Sight Of Where We Came From’”, The Drum, Jun 2019, https://www.thedrum.com/news/2019/06/17/pizza-hut-revives-og-branding-kickstart-growth-we-lost-sight-where-we-came 
  7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_WvIQUY8gI
  8. B. Bold, “Pizza Hut Encourages Consumers To ‘Taste Freedom’ With New Positioning”, Campaign, Jun 2015, http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/1351315/pizza-hut-encourages-consumers-taste-freedom-new-positioning
  9. I. Watson, “’Easiest, Fastest, Tastiest’: Inside Pizza Hut’s Brand Strategy To Topple Domino’s”, The Drum, Sep 2019, https://www.thedrum.com/news/2019/09/05/easiest-fastest-tastiest-inside-pizza-huts-brand-strategy-topple-dominos
  10. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGtkW9o9ezs
  11. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzRZRyPReJk
  12. http://blog.pizzahut.com/our-story/
  13. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jB69xoIrbL0
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