By Published on .

Most Popular
Randy gier, the new chief marketing officer of Pizza Hut, said he wants to avoid the kind of marketing where a product makes a big splash and then sinks into oblivion.

"We have a phrase we call a 'boom splat.' You make a huge impact on America, and then you go back to where you were before," he said. "We want to do things that have a boom and then sustain it. We want to always be building on a higher level."

Mr. Gier's first move is to challenge BBDO Worldwide, New York, the agency for Pizza Hut's estimated $200 million account, to look beyond short-term projects-such as the upcoming launch of Edge pizza-toward an enduring campaign.


Sustaining product growth will be a relatively new tactic at the nation's largest pizza chain, which has been known in recent years for such "boom splats" as Big Foot, Stuffed Crust and Triple Decker pizzas. And company sales haven't boomed in the extremely competitive $25 billion pizza segment of the fast-food business.

Mr. Gier, 36, joins Pizza Hut from KFC, the strong-performing chicken chain of joint parent Tricon Global Restaurants, where he held the top marketing spot since May 1996.

The executive said Pizza Hut, with some 7,700 U.S. outlets, is starting to show signs of a turnaround. That's thanks in part to its emphasis on product quality that began last spring with a $50 million investment in new equipment, training programs, ingredient upgrades and an ad campaign featuring then-President David Novak, now Tricon CEO.

And, while comparable-store sales were down some 7% at Pizza Hut for the first half of this year compared with the same period a year ago, sales are expected to be in positive territory for the third quarter, according to industry analysts.


At KFC, Mr. Gier learned about "having the patience to bring things forward at a rate that the organization can absorb," he said.

Mr. Gier, who said he has a fierce competitive streak, was an 11-year veteran of PepsiCo, where he fought the cola wars alongside Mr. Novak. Tricon recently was spun off from PepsiCo, which also owns the Taco Bell chain.

At Pizza Hut, Mr. Gier replaces Bill Cobb, who was named senior VP-marketing for Tricon's international division.

"We will look to get a more consistent look, tone and feel as to what the brand is about," said Mr. Gier of his new brand. "The sense I have and the sense I've gotten from the franchisees is we are a little guilty of 'campaign of the month.' It may not be adding up to a bigger whole. We'll give the agency a bigger challenge going forward."

Pizza Hut spent $178.2 million in national advertising last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.


"While we will have new products, it won't be a new product of the month. It will be consistent messaging along big themes," he said.

The chain's current tagline, "Makin' it great again and again," isn't being held sacred, he said, though "I'm not specifically requesting a tagline change nor is it off limits."

Mr. Gier said he's not looking to switch agencies.

"BBDO is a terrific agency. I know they've got it in them to do it. It is incumbent on us as a client to make sure we're giving them the right direction," he said.

Before jumping into fast-food, Mr. Gier was VP-brand marketing for PepsiCo's Frito-Lay division, where he is credited with helping to revitalize the potato chip category and for the successful launch of Baked Lay's potato crisps.

James Schwartz, president of NPC International, Pizza Hut's largest franchisee with 696 units, said he agrees with the need to re-evaluate marketing.

"I've met Randy and he seems like a strong marketing" executive, he said. "From a marketing standpoint, sometimes you need to look at something in a brand new

In this article: