Pizza Hut Hands Digital, Social Media to Martin

E-commerce Business Goes to Huge

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Yum Brands' Pizza Hut has handed digital marketing and social media to its lead agency, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Martin Agency. Sibling agency Huge has been tapped to handle Pizza Hut's e-commerce business. Both moves occurred without a review. Digital marketing was previously handled by Dallas-based indie agency IMC.

The move to hand digital marketing and social media to Martin "was made to help fully integrate our digital and advertising initiatives," according to a Pizza Hut spokesman. Huge , meanwhile, will be responsible for the pizza chain's online ordering site as well as setting overall e-commerce strategy.

IMC's swan song for Pizza Hut were the recently released iPad and Android apps, as well as an updated iPhone app. Pizza Hut in 2009 launched the pizza category's first iPhone app, which has since been downloaded nearly 3 million times. The Pizza Hut spokesman said that Huge will simply "fine-tune" the online ordering platform, rather than revamp it.

Pizza Hut in recent years has prioritized online ordering, as have rivals Papa John's and Domino's, making for a heated race to digital dominance. All three chains in the past have said that they hope to do about half of their business online. In April 2010 Pizza Hut had unveiled a simpler online ordering platform -- customers can now order a pizza in two clicks -- built by IMC and QuickOrder, Chicago. Papa John's was the first of the three big chains to offer online ordering, though Pizza Hut built industry-first ordering platforms for not only the iPhone but also Facebook, and Domino's made waves with its Pizza Tracker.

Pizza Hut chief marketer Kurt Kane last year pinned a sales turnaround on $10 pizzas and two-click ordering. Indeed, its 2010 U.S. same-store sales were up about 8%, although that growth was tempered by the chain's first-quarter 2011 earnings: U.S. same-store sales were down 3%.

Pizza Hut in 2010 spent $217.4 million on measured media spending, up 9.7% from the prior year, according to Kantar.

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