by Sean Corcoran

I'm here and live blogging from the Forrester 2009 Consumer Forum in Chicago. Bob Kraut, VP of Communications for Pizza Hut, is presenting how the brand used an innovative approach to digital marketing to adapt to a new and challenging consumer landscape.

Pizza Hut has been hit fairly hard in this economy as people cut back on much of their sit down dining in the recession. They also are fighting the same uphill battle as other marketers – the reality that consumers' media habits have been fragmented and reaching them in an engaging and effective way with scale is very difficult and very costly. In response to these realities, Pizza Hut had to be innovative in how they leveraged digital tools to reach and enable their consumers. They developed a four step strategy that included a lower priced menu items, more variety in the menu, more convenient and fulfilling customer access and finally to become part of the conversation online.

What manifested from this approach were some interesting tactics that include a viral video showing celebrity sponsor Jim Breuer freaking out during a taping of a Pizza Hut commercial (spoofing the Christian Bale video), a viral video featuring the popular High Five Guys, a popular promotion to select a Twintern (who now has over 1 million Facebook fans) who works with the team to push out special promotions through their Twitter account, the development of a new website that will both recognize repeat customers and offer one page ordering (first in the industry) and finally a popular iPhone app that enables consumers to order pizza. They're even using lead back targeting to advertise to people who have watched their viral videos – a fairly unique approach to behavioral and leadback targeting through display media. They're also using a visual dashboard to track all of the key metrics and while they don't have a hard formula for ROI, they're in the process of fine tuning reporting and analytics.

What can interactive marketers learn from this?

  • The consumer landscape has changed for good and brands are recognizing that
  • Now is the time to start shifting some time and resources to owned and earned media and integrate it alongside your paid media tactics
  • Even the brands at the front end of social media are still trying to figure out how to measure it
  • You really can order a pizza through an iPhone app as Bob's pizza just arrived as he wraps up

Bob k