Pizza Hut’s latest campaign features a bolder tone of voice and a resurrection of its red-roof logo – two things its chief brand officer hopes will resuscitate consumer love for the pizza chain after a period of brand shyness and slow growth.
The brand has chosen to unveil its new branding through a campaign for Cheesy Bites, its limited edition, tear-and-share crust pizza. The snappy flagship commercial for the menu item is packed with product shots and an assertive voiceover, which concludes that “no-one outpizzas the Hut”.
The slogan may be staying the same, but the brand has changed its logo back to the geometric roof and heavy, slab serif type that ran between 1967 and 1999. The return to its 20th century emblem forms part of the brand’s latest strategy: go back to its roots to reassert what it stands for an in a crowded QSR market.
“Pizza Hut is ... an American, iconic classic that’s ingrained in people's hearts and minds,” said Marianne Radley, Pizza Hut’s chief brand officer. “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.
“As we evolved, our tone changed and there really wasn't a clear understanding of what we stood for. We should never have lost sight of where we came from, and that’s the fact we were born in a restaurant, not a board room. That's really a point of difference for us within the category.”
A bolder tone of voice is needed for the brand to cut through in the US QSR scene, since its president told investors he was “dissatisfied” with Pizza Hut’s growth last December, despite notable investment into marketing activity and restaurant revamps.
Radley, who joined from Monster Energy in February 2018, believes a bolder strategy tapping into customer nostalgia may kickstart growth again. Qualitative research conducted with more than 3,000 consumers reported customers still consider Pizza Hut as “the OG of the pizza category” – it just needs to own that position more in its communications.
Pizza Hut’s internal marketing team spent two days with its agency of record, GSD&M, sifting through the company’s archives at the Pizza Hut museum in Wichita, Kansas. The group trawled original menus and recipe cards to reacquaint themselves with the icons the restaurant was once famed for: checked tablecloths, red glass tumblers and Tiffany-style lamps.