LITTLE CAESARS INFLATES PIZZAS, NOT PRICES: ADS SAY SMALL PIE NOW SAME SIZE AS RIVALS' LARGE

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Little Caesars Pizza is increasing the size of its pies without raising prices in a bid to polish its image as a value player in the take-out pizza market.

The nation's No. 3 pizza chain is taking each of its pizzas up 4 inches to give customers more food for the buck. It comes at a time when rival No. 1 Pizza Hut is pushing to revive sagging sales with a quality upgrade of its own, and when No. 2 Domino's Pizza is touting quality.

The Big!Big! pizzas will sell for $5.99 for a small, $7.99 for a medium and $9.99 for a large.

The small is the same size as a large one from competitors, chain officials boasted.

This is meant to be a permanent product change.

'PEOPLE WANT MORE FOOD'

"We see people wanting more food, and our new product really underscores our trademark, which is value," said a Little Caesars spokeswoman.

The bigger pizzas won't displace other menu items such as Pizza by the Foot.

The larger pizzas are the focus of a network TV commercial from Cliff Freeman & Partners, New York, that was slated to break on Labor Day.

MORE HUMOR

The spot continues Little Caesars' humorous tone. One scene features a doctor spanking an oversized newborn, and being slugged in return. Another shows a hefty uncle tucking into a big slice of pepperoni pizza.

"They dwarf the competition" is the tagline.

This is the first time in a few years the chain has done a comparative ad naming competitors Pizza Hut and Domino's, though the reference only appears in type. The campaign will include national print ads and spot radio as well as couponing.

Executives at the chain wouldn't disclose the campaign budget. Last year, the company spent $53.2 million in measured media, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

"Quite frankly, I think the segment needs something dramatic to hit it," said Dennis Lombardi, exec VP of Technomic, a restaurant consultancy. "I'm not sure a bigger pizza is going to be the answer."

The $21.1 billion U.S. pizza segment grew just 0.5% last year, compared to a 5.2% increase among the top 100l fast-food restaurants, Mr. Lombardi said. Little Caesars had 8.5% of the pizza segment, down from 8.8% the year before.

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