Promotion Moves Pizza Buyers Online

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Pizza Hut Inc. once again is using the Internet to ignite sales of its Big New Yorker Pizza, this time targeting the back-to-school market.


Consumers who buy that pizza July 23 through Aug. 20 in any of Pizza Hut's 7,100 locations nationwide will be eligible for $30 in gift certificates. These certificates can be redeemed at seven participating retailers accessed from the Pizza Hut and America Online Web sites.


"Our target back-to-school consumers are very much online, and we know that Internet shopping is something that's going to happen," said Rich Matteson, director of national marketing and promotions at Pizza Hut. "We expect to sell [more than] 1 million Big New Yorker pizzas every week of the promotion."


More than $15 million has been earmarked for advertising Pizza Hut's second major national online promotion. BBDO, New York, is handling radio and TV, and TLP, Dallas, is responsible for print and point of sales. The campaign also includes in-store support from Pizza Hut and online ads on AOL.


Based in Dallas, Pizza Hut and its siblings, KFC and Taco Bell, are owned by PepsiCo spin-off Tricon Global Restaurants.


The back-to-school effort is similar to a January-February Pizza Hut promotion with music retailer CDNow.com for a free custom CD. Consumers who bought a Big New Yorker Pizza received a CD sleeve in their pizza box with a personal access code that they could enter at www.cdnow.com/pizzahut. More than 800,000 custom CDs were made.


Unlike that promotion, however, the current push allies Pizza Hut with seven retailers and with AOL. The retailers include JCPenney.com, Toysrus.com, fogdog.com, Petopia.com, eBags.com, eddiebauer.com and 800.com.


"We really wanted to come up with a group of retailers that were traditional as well as Internet-only," Matteson said.


Pizza Hut has imposed a certificate limit of $10 per merchant. An e-mail address and code from a Big New Yorker Pizza box will drive consumers to redeem three $10 certificates by visiting www.aol.com/pizzahut or entering Pizza Hut as the keyword at AOL.


For AOL, allying with Pizza Hut is expected to gain it considerable traffic from consumers who might be tempted to become paying subscribers. Visitors redeeming the certificates will be offered 500 free hours for the first month in this push for the new AOL 5.0 version.


Participating retailers also benefit by association. As the only merchant among the seven to sell consumer electronics, movies and music, 800.com feels it has the right product mix for the promotion.


"These products are a bull's-eye for Pizza Hut's audience," said Tim Zuckert, vice president and chief marketing officer at 800.com, Portland, OR.


"Essentially, this promotion expands our brand's reach," Zuckert said. "We expect it to drive considerable traffic to our site and allow us to acquire new customers [who] might not otherwise be exposed to 800.com."

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