Tak­ing a Hit

Pizza Hut re­leases a new cam­paign to com­bat the age-old ri­valry with Domino’s.

The Brand Reporter - - NEWS - By Deep­ashree Ban­er­jee deep­ashree.ban­er­jee@afaqs.com

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.


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. ■

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