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Pizza Hut weaves the brand into the Indian consumer psyche

Sunay Bhasin, Head - Marketing, Pizza Hut India, talks about the new campaign devised by JWT to mark 15 years of the brand in the country and the brand’s journey

Neha Saraiya| New Delhi | December 27, 2011

In order to celebrate its 15 years in India, Pizza Hut has launched a campaign that went on-air over the last weekend. The TVC comprises two ad films and revisits the history of the brand in the country, with consumers sharing their experience in terms of the contrast of their first pizza and what they get today. The campaign focuses on the changes that have taken place in their lives, but has not changed their memories attached with the brand.

Created by JWT Delhi, the first ad begins with twin sisters sharing their first experience of fighting with one another during their childhood and how their parents got them to Pizza Hut to patch up. The ad further shows a mom and dad sitting together; from the mom’s reaction it’s obvious the parents have had a fight. After looking at the irresistible pizza, the dad picks up the slice and as he is about to take the first bite, one of the daughters urges him to offer the slice to their mom first. With a naughty smile, the dad offers the slice to his wife to patch up. From the girls’ first pizza over patch-up to the parents’ patch up -- Pizza Hut’s irresistible pizzas brings them together over an enjoyable meal.

The second ad film shows a young man sitting with his girlfriend and narrating his first experience of Pizza Hut. When he was six years old, his father took him to Pizza Hut. The moment the pizza arrived, he pulled it towards him and joked with his dad asking him where his pizza was. Today, he is sitting at the same Pizza Hut with his girlfriend and the moment the pizza is served, he pulls it towards his side and plays the same prank on his girlfriend. The girl gives a puzzled look and then he gives her a teasing smile and offers her his slice of the pizza. They share the pizza and enjoy themselves.

The TVCs:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeNrR5d0-LI[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Y_U1pW-1f0[/youtube]

Talking about the campaign, Jaideep Mahajan, VP & Executive Creative Director, JWT Delhi, said, “Pizza Hut is celebrating its 15th anniversary. The campaign has a very simple thought: 'a lot has changed in your lives in last 15 years but one thing that hasn't is the taste of the pizzas'. The craving for these irresistible pizzas is what brings you back to Pizza Hut. Different characters recalling their experience of 'My First Pizza' shows the journey they have gone through in these 15 years. The candidness of the characters in the films make the films very real.”

The 30-second commercials have been directed by Aniruddha Sen and the production house is Electric Dreams.

Speaking exclusively with BestMediaInfo.com, Sunay Bhasin, Head - Marketing, Pizza Hut India, shared a snap shot of the brand’s 15-year journey in India and also what’s in store for the brand from here on.

Bhasin joined Pizza Hut India in 2007 as Marketing Manager, and had helped in setting up the brand here. In August 2009 he moved to Dallas, US, where he was responsible for managing marketing activities for KFC International. Bhasin has recently came back as Marketing Head of Pizza Hut. Excerpts:

What’s the ideation behind the new campaign?

Pizza Hut is celebrating its 15th anniversary. The campaign has a very simple thought:  'a lot has changed in your lives in last 15 years but one thing that hasn't is the taste of the pizzas'. The craving for these irresistible, tasty pizzas is what brings you back to Pizza Hut. Different characters narrating their experiences of 'My First Pizza' charmingly show their journey over the last 15 years. The candidness in the films make them very real.

The company had undergone a revamp in August this year. What was the reason for this and what changes have you made?

In a fast-changing environment we have always undergone changes ever since we started. So, staring from 1996, what we bought to the table was a great new western pizza dining experience. As the Indian economy grew, people had higher incomes and were exposed to various things from around the world, so the desire to add new experiences and variety were the need. That is what we started working on -- to make the transition from a pizza QSR to affordable casual dining restaurants. In the last three and a half years we have added around 110 new products on our menu, like pasta, new appetizers apart from garlic breads, and even in beverages -- skewers, shakes and lemonades.

So the basic idea is to communicate the message of pizzas and more
 Did you conduct any research before implementing them?

We follow a full and robust process of innovation. But everything starts at the consumer level. We understand what consumers are seeking including taste, experiences and food formats. We look at their needs and then we have a full process in place wherein we develop from options suggested by consumers. Then we go back and check with consumers.  Finally, the ones they really warm up to are the ones that go on the menu.

You have a pool of experience in brand, communication and innovation management with exposure in international markets. What variations in operation of QSRs do you see in India compared to global markets?

Both Pizza hut and KFC are part of Yum! brands. So I never changed my corporate entity.  But both operate in retail formats and in a way are very similar. But then, they are significantly different as one is a QSR and the other is casual dining restaurant. But Pizza Hut is more experiential in nature as people come to us for experience and not just for food.

These days many brands are experimenting on social media. What about Pizza Hut?

We have about 1.4 million fans in India on our Facebook page. It’s a page they like to come, know more about Pizza Hut. We are kind of facilitators to connect with Pizza Hut and we get their feedback. It’s a great forum where we are able to engage our consumers. As time goes along we will add more innovations on our page.

Of all marketing campaigns of the brand over the years, which one is your favourite?

Over the years we have been game changers, be it the last campaign where we announced the new Pizza Hut experience and showcased the changes in terms of food -- the ‘Weekday special’, the ‘Javed Jafri’ campaign or the initial ‘Pan pizza’ campaign.

Going forward, what marketing initiatives have you planned to support the momentum?

Our goal is to almost double our size from 131 to 250 stores by 2015. That’s the growth target for Pizza Hut alone and does not include KFC and PHD (Pizza Delivery Chain). It’s been a strong competitive growth and we are very excited about the future. Thus, we want to strengthen and make sure that guests keep coming back to us. We would like to continue to grow and take the brand to the next orbit.

Neha@BestMediaInfo.com

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