Pizza Hut is an American restaurant chain and international franchise founded in 1958 in Wichita, Kansas by Dan and Frank Carney. It provides pizza and other Italian-American dishes, including pasta, side dishes and desserts. The chain has a total of 18,703 restaurants worldwide as of December 31, 2019, making it the world’s largest pizza chain in terms of number of locations. It is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc., one of the world’s largest restaurant companies.
Objective / insight
Over the last year, pizza has become a pandemic staple, escalating a long-running rivalry between the major chains. Pizza Hut has enlisted the help of an old friend: Pac-Man, in order to boost profits and gain a larger slice of the pie.
The Pac-Man character is owned by Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc, and Yutaka Fuse, the company’s head of licensing and branding, recently addressed the Pizza Hut partnership. « Pac-Man’s concept and development were influenced by the shape of a pizza with a slice cut out of it, making this collaboration so fitting for the Pac-Man brand ».
George Felix, Pizza Hut’s chief marketing officer, summarized the strategy: “The idea behind ‘Newstalgia’ was born out of listening to our customers and celebrating all the things they associate with and love most about the brand, » he said. « Whether it’s the Tiffany lamps, arcade games, the red cups, the red-and-white checkered tablecloth or, of course, our iconic pizzas – and fusing those timeless equities with modern innovations, as seen with the partnership with Pac-Man and limited-edition AR box.”
Pizza Hut teamed up with producer, comedian, and new spokesman Craig Robinson for a TV advertisement to help spread the word about the campaign. He is seen playing « Pac-Man » while eating a $10 Tastemaker pizza in the commercial.
Customers will be able to play an augmented reality version of the game by scanning QR codes on pizza boxes using their smartphones. Players will also have the chance to win an Arcade1Up « Pac-Man » machine cabinet if they visit the chain.
Yum!, the company that operates Pizza Hut, recently released its fourth-quarter earnings, revealing that same-store sales increased by 8%. According to Felix, this was Pizza Hut’s best quarterly result in ten years. According to Felix, the pandemic has accelerated the franchise’s turnaround in the United States, allowing the company to cement its reputation for delivery and takeout.