How Pizza Hut Bakes A Multiscreen Super Bowl Strategy

daviddanielsPizza Hut set a record during last year’s Super Bowl when it sold $12 million worth of pizza through digital channels.

This year, it hopes to set a new one by doubling down on traditional and digital media – early and often.

“People are thinking about what they’re doing for Super Bowl Sunday earlier now,” said David Daniels, VP of advertising and media for Pizza Hut. “Candidly, we knew we couldn’t continue to build off our previous successes unless we’re the top brand in our consideration set on what is a massive pizza day in America.”

Although Pizza Hut is investing again in a pregame commercial starring "Star Trek" actor George Takei, it wanted to boost fan engagement prior to the big tentpole event.

Pizza Hut has sponsored ESPN fantasy football for several years, but decided to test-drive Yahoo Sports because of its scale. The combined Yahoo Sports-NBC Sports Network commanded 58.7 million unique visitors in the US on desktop and mobile in December, according to comScore.

Pizza Hut is sponsoring a digital game on Yahoo Sports called "Squares Pick’em," which lets football fans use Pizza Hut-themed grids to compete with friends and family and “score” the Super Bowl matchup.

Pizza Hut’s fantasy sports activation includes display, search and email placements designed to push sign ups for its bracket game on Yahoo Sports. The promotion also places ads on blogs Shutdown Corner and RotoArcade, as well as alongside NFL-related editorial.

Daniels spoke with AdExchanger about how Pizza Hut executes a multichannel campaign. 

AdExchanger: How is your Yahoo Sports activation similar or different from what you’ve done in prior Super Bowls?

DAVID DANIELS: I would say this is a little bit of a different take on the personal gamification of live sports. We’d had a partnership with ESPN for the last two years and created a program with them called "Commissioner of the Week" where we reward outstanding commissioners who were nominated by their leagues.

We were amazed by the amount of engagement and passion in fantasy sports, so when [we were presented with] the Yahoo Sports collaboration, we thought it made sense because they’ve got incredible reach and a massive audience. On our side, we have a massive ecommerce presence. Because of the direct-response nature of our business, we have the ability to drive immediate transactions via a connection with a consumer online, on desktop or mobile.

Can fantasy sports drive sales?

We know how much engagement there is going to be around Super Bowl Sunday and the matchups. One of the main things about this campaign was, you don’t have to do a "Squares" game at your party where everyone’s present. I can engage with family back on the East Coast or friends on the West Coast and have a bit of a spirited competition going into the big game without being in the same room together. We thought it was a great way to get our brand involved in the conversation well before game day to increase engagement and excitement.

What’s your key KPI for a campaign like this?

Admittedly, a little bit of this is uncharted territory. We certainly are going to judge engagement by how many people sign up and participate, but the beauty of our business is we can tie it back to transactions because we know, based on click-through, how many people go from this activation to PizzaHut.com and if they completed an order through that process. Anything we promote or activate online makes it easier to draw a direct ROI against.

Are you at the point where you can measure audiences across Yahoo Sports versus a Snapchat or Facebook, for instance?

Ideally, you’d use each platform as an incremental reach or engagement play. You’d hit a different audience on Snapchat than you would on Facebook or Yahoo Sports. Obviously there’s duplication across those, but we try to tailor our content differently because there’s evidence consumers engage with content in different ways on these platforms. We look at things holistically, but then we evaluate how we can be most effective against each one of these platform touch points.

How has your Super Bowl budget and planning process changed, given all the digital opportunities?

Historically, Super Bowl advertisers would announce something on Super Bowl day in an incredibly cluttered environment where there was a lot of pressure to break through and have your message carry over more than other advertisers on Super Bowl Sunday. You would try to reinforce that message and get a payoff in the subsequent days or weeks.

The big transition now is that most Super Bowl advertisers are releasing their Super Bowl spot a week or two in advance of Super Bowl Sunday. So they’re engaging with audiences online that they may or may not catch them on TV on game day. They’re amortizing and getting more out of the effectiveness of their work by releasing it earlier and having consumers engage with it longer.

Pizza Hut still prioritizes TV in its paid media budget. Are you worried about viewer fragmentation?

TV remains a very important part of our media mix, but with over-the-top TV, enhanced digital channels and better measurement and targeting, digital media will only become more important and, frankly, more impactful to our business.

We want to get better, as a brand, at our ability to target across and understand these channels and use them in a way that benefits our business. But … we [also want the] big, breakthrough ideas. We want to do things that we’ve never been done before with our media partners, which our "Squares" game on Yahoo is an example of.

Interview has been condensed and edited.

 

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