Taking a Hit
Pizza Hut releases a new campaign to combat the age-old rivalry with Domino’s.
Do you think puppets were out of fashion? Take a moment! The good old hand-crafted puppets are back... and how?
The new TVC, released by Pizza Hut — a division of US-based Yum! Brands Inc. — takes a humorous route and shows puppets switching to the ‘all-new’ Pizza Hut. Conceptualised by Ogilvy, the campaign has been produced by Corcoise Films and directed by Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy.
The TVC also features Abhay Deol, thus marking the comeback of a celebrity-endorsed TV campaign by the brand after a hiatus of eight years.
So, what was the marketing problem that the makers of the ad wanted to solve with this new campaign?
This time around, the attempt appears to be deliberate and rather evident. It seems quite clear that the blue puppet in the film is set to resemble rival Domino’s which has a brand image in a similar colour. It looks like a conscious decision on the brand’s part, to keep the script simple and less serious in tone, with the puppet concluding that the take on the rival was meant to be funny and not quite one that could trigger a controversial reaction.
To combat the age-old rivalry with Domino’s, the company had to buckle-up by upgrading equipment, improving restaurant technology and boosting advertising. The brand has had several TVCs spanning the 22 years that they have been in India.
Prashant Gaur, chief brand officer, Pizza Hut India, informs, “We have only dialled up our brand presence on television in the last 5 to 8 years.”
Gaur thinks they’ve been quite agile in the manner in which they have engaged with their evolving audience and that the brand’s campaigns have kept pace with what appeals to today’s netizens.
“With increasing digitalisation and more and more consumers going online for their daily dose of information, we have made digital platforms an integral part of our media strategy. Talking about our latest campaign - It’s time to switch - we break it with a set of two TVCs; one on the recently launched pan pizza range and the other on WOW! Everyday value,” he sums up.
Thoughts behind roping a nonmainstream actor like Abhay Deol?
“We wanted our TVCs for the new campaign to have a protagonist that our audiences can resonate with. Abhay is known for his unconventional style and a cool and confident personality, something that personifies the brand and gels well with it,” Gaur explains.
The TVC marks the comeback of a celebrity-led campaign by Pizza Hut after a gap of 8 years.
“Abhay is known for his unconventional style and a cool and confident personality, something that personifies the brand and gels well with it.”
When discussing how the brand appears to be taking a jibe at a rival, Gaur shrugs off any such probability and elaborates on the choice of using puppets as a creative device, “The TVCs use subtle humour where the puppets are seen switching to the allnew Pizza Hut. Abhay Deol, known for his unique comic style, brings out the best of the situation in the ads, giving the campaign its very essence.”
When quizzed on the brand’s decision to ‘beep out’ some parts of the puppet’s dialogue in the video, Gaur gets candid, “Yes, we are leaving a lot to the imagination!”
Several ingredients may be behind the utter dominance of Domino’s Pizza over its rivals recently. The pizza chain continues to aggressively remodel its restaurants using its “pizza theatre” concept, as Domino’s calls it, in order to lure patrons.
On the brand’s brief, Ajay Gahlaut, deputy CCO - Ogilvy India/CCO Ogilvy, North, tells afaqs! Reporter, “We were asked to communicate the core message — It’s time to switch — in the most entertaining way possible. Being a pizza brand, we wanted the TVCs to be fun and that’s when the idea of puppets came into play.”
Gahlaut thinks this campaign caters to all pizza lovers, irrespective of demographics or psychographics.
Also, let’s not forget the offshore Pizza Hut advertisement starring Donald and Ivana Trump that kicked off the success of the chain’s stuffedcrust pizza back in 1995.
DEAL MAKER OR BREAKER?
Ramanujam Sridhar, CEO and founder of Brand-Comm raises a potent question, “Whilst kids, teenagers and young adults are the prime movers who bring Pizza into the home for anyone to consume, I am wondering whom the advertising is targeting?”
“Clearly, it is taking weak pot shots at the dominant brand but it is too clever by half. Puppets are as old as the hills, even if the QSR category may not have used the tactic. Consumers tend to compare advertising across categories, unlike us,” he quips.
There is nothing Sridhar feels that will move or shake the category or make the competition worry in this “me too” commercial with a celebrity who is not a blockbuster.
Bikram Bindra, vice-president and strategic planning head, Grey Group Delhi, believes this campaign carries a clear marketing agenda: get lapses back into the fold.
Pizza Hut, historically known for serving up the ‘better’ pizza, has potentially been losing favour with a fickle audience that has been lured away with consistent discounting and an almost ‘forced’ loyalty by the other big player in this category.
“The intent of the film is to subtly make us question that preference and using an unusual creative device (like the puppet or even a nonmainstream actor like Abhay Deol) ensures a mental availability long after the film is viewed and a break from the cookie-cutter approach of the category,” he shares. ■