- You can now play "Pac-Man" on Pizza Hut's delivery boxes, using AR tech.
- It is part of the firm's "Newstalgia" campaign, which is bringing back customer dine-in favourites.
- Insider spoke to Pizza Hut's CMO, George Felix, to learn more about the retro idea.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
Pizza has become a pandemic staple over the past year, which has only intensified a long-running rivalry between the biggest chains. As part of its bid to further boost sales and grab a bigger slice of the pie, Pizza Hut has turned to a reliable old friend: Pac-Man.
The use of the gaming icon to draw in customers forms part of the company's "Newstalgia" campaign. Retro-driven ads will soon bring back popular dine-in favorites, including Book It! pins, red cups, and stained-glass lamps — but with a modern twist.
As for "Pac-Man," limited-edition pizza boxes will feature QR codes which, when scanned on a smartphone will allow customers to play an augmented reality version of the game. The chain will also give players the opportunity to win an Arcade1Up "Pac-Man" machine cabinet.
In an interview with Insider, Pizza Hut's chief marketing officer, George Felix, explained the thinking behind the strategy.
"The idea behind Newstalgia was born out of listening to our customers and celebrating all the things they associate with and love most about the brand," he said. "Whether it's the Tiffany lamps, arcade games, the red cups, the red-and-white checkered tablecloth or, of course, our iconic pizzas – and fusing those timeless equities with modern innovations, as seen with the partnership with Pac-Man and limited-edition AR box."
To help amplify the campaign, Pizza Hut partnered with actor, comedian, and new spokesperson, Craig Robinson, for a TV commercial. In the spot, he is shown playing "Pac-Man" while chowing down on a $10 Tastemaker pizza.
Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc owns the licence to the Pac-Man character, and Yutaka Fuse, the company's head of licensing and branding, recently discussed the Pizza Hut collaboration. He told Food and Wine: "Pac-Man's design and creation was inspired by the shape of a pizza with a slice taken out of it, making this partnership so appropriate for the Pac-Man brand."
Yum!, the corporation that owns Pizza Hut, recently reported the chain's q4 earnings, which showed same-store sales rose 8% in the quarter. This marked the best quarterly performance for Pizza Hut in 10 years, Felix said. In fact, the pandemic has accelerated the franchise's turnaround in the US, helping the brand cement its reputation for delivery and takeout, according to Felix.
From a marketing standpoint, one of the brand's biggest challenges in recent years has been a lack of consistency, Felix told Insider, "but with this new campaign and creative positioning, we are aiming to re-establish a strong brand identity rooted in decades of bold innovations, industry firsts, and nostalgic emotional connections."
In the future, pizza lovers will continue to see timeless Pizza Hut elements weaved into product launches and brand creative throughout the year, Felix said.
He added: "We're always looking for opportunities from a marketing standpoint to see where new technologies or emerging technologies can help us tell the stories that we want to tell and think that this campaign can be disruptive in the context of our category."