- Pizza Hut launched a campaign today around the concept of "Newstalgia," giving a modern spin to the brand's iconic branding elements, per a press release shared with Marketing Dive. The year-long campaign was created with agencies GSD&M and Tool of North America.
- As part of the campaign, limited-edition boxes of large pizzas will feature QR codes that, when scanned, allow customers to play an augmented reality (AR) version of the classic game Pac-Man. Players that share their scores on Twitter will be entered to win a custom Pac-Man game cabinet.
- The shift in its creative positioning also allowed the brand to release a TV spot featuring spokesperson Craig Robinson playing a retro Pac-Man game to promote the "Newstalgia" effort, which taps into trends around nostalgia and at-home dining that have boomed during the pandemic.
Pizza Hut's campaign for its $10 Tastemaker pizza taps into nostalgia for the brand's iconic branding elements — including the Book It! program, classic arcade games, red cups and Tiffany-style lamps — and reimagines them with a modern twist, an approach it is calling "Newstalgia." Those elements are present in the TV commercial, where Robinson's "man cave" is decked out like a 1980s Pizza Hut.
"There's so much love for this brand and so many iconic elements ... any marketer would die to have a fraction of those things. The challenge is taking those things that people know us for, and bringing them into today's world in relevant ways," CMO George Felix told Marketing Dive.
That old-is-new approach is key to the campaign's Pac-Man tie-in, which turns the classic arcade game into an AR experience via a QR code-enabled pizza box. Beyond a novel, playful use of AR, the sharing of scores on social media could extend the campaign's reach as more people enter to win a Pac-Man gaming cabinet. Plus, it allows consumers to capture some of the social experience of on-premise dining that has been lost during the pandemic, according to Felix.
Pizza Hut hopes the effort will be a "breakthrough campaign" for the category, accelerating the momentum the chain has seen over the last three quarters, Felix said. The brand saw an 8% increase in same-store sales in Q4 2020, per the most recent earnings report by parent company Yum Brands.
Felix joined Pizza Hut at the beginning of 2020 after serving as the global marketing director at sister brand KFC. David Graves, KFC's director of marketing strategy and innovation also joined Pizza Hut as chief brand officer. The moves appeared to be a way to help Pizza Hut capture some of the marketing prowess that helped make KFC a stand out in the crowded QSR category.