PR dollars bite into TV's lunch at Pizza Hut

By Rosie Baker | 11 March 2014

Pizza Hut is flipping the dough and launching more campaigns that are PR and social media-led as opposed to TV first as it looks to drive the level of 'instant engagement' it has with people.

The fast-food chain recently kicked off a PR-driven stunt calling on McDonald's burger fans to apply for a one-off job ahead of the launch of its 'burger crown crust pizza' to create a buzz around the launch and is planning more of the same.

The brand has taken a traditional approach to marketing for product launches In the past with TV, radio and press taking the lead. For this campagin, PR came first and was followed by TV.

Fatima Syed, Pizza Hut marketing director, told AdNews: “We haven't done a lot of work around PR in the past and we're looking to do more in the next 12 months. The kind of brand and product we are, is about being fun and engaging. The most important thing to us is the consumer and PR can play a big role in getting our message out so we're looking for more unconventional ways to use it,” she said.

Syed said the brand will also be investing more dollars and spending more time marketing the brand in social media channels. Instagram and Twitter are a particular focus as they currently have a marginal presence. It has an established Facebook profile with more than 450,000 fans and high levels of engagement, she said.

The appeal of social media, she said is the way it makes engagement instantaneous. Where previously, marketers considered dwell time and consumers spending longer with the brand as the key to engagement, Syed reckons that stronger engagement can actually come from more frequent, shorter bursts of engagement.

“We find that through Twitter and Instagram you can [have a two way conversation] with consumers within seconds. Consumers can dip in and dip out and still stay engaged with us. With mobile and digital consumers are getting more instantaneous and want to be able to do whatever they are doing in five-seconds flat.

That's territory we want to be spending more time in. It's a great way to engage through promotions, to reward loyal customers and get feedback. For me what works is the fact that it's about content, not necessary the in-depth conversation.”

Pizza Hut, which is owned by Yum! Brands, currently invests around 20% of its budget in digital, although more than 40% of its sales come through digital channels. While Syed said digital budgets were unlikely to match that, it will increase.

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