NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Pizza Hut will be making its first appearance in the Super Bowl, with one spot by Interpublic Group of Cos.' Martin Agency appearing in the first half of the game on Feb. 6, 2011.
The ad buy, which was led by Pizza Hut's VP-advertising Kurt Kane, marks a change of course for the restaurant chain, which has long opted to gain exposure around the big game, but has not actually been in it. Pizza Hut has served as the presenting sponsor on NFL Networks' GameDay Morning program, and has run ads leading up to the event. This year's game airs on Fox.
In the past those spots have included celebrities such as Jessica Simpson and Donald Trump. For the 2010 Super Bowl Pizza Hut used the pre-game to debut work from Martin, which it hired in 2009 after more than two decades working with Omnicom Group's BBDO. That campaign largely promoted a low-price strategy to consumers, touting $10 pizzas.
"In the past we've focused on a specific product on Super Bowl Sunday, so our strategy was to advertise that product pre-game, giving our customers time to order it," said Mr. Kane. "This year, we will be focusing on the brand during the in-game spot with a fully integrated plan. We'll be highlighting the role that the Pizza Hut brand plays in customers' lives beyond the game and throughout the year."
The effort is the latest salvo in the "Pizza Wars" between three U.S.-based mega chains Papa John's, which is the NFL's "official" pizza, and Domino's. Interestingly, Pizza Hut's move into the Super Bowl comes as Taco Bell, a regular Super Bowl advertiser, has yet to announce an appearance this year. Both are owned by Louisville, Ky.-based Yum Brands, which is also the parent of fast-food chains KFC, Long John Silvers and A&W All American Restaurants.
According to Ad Age's DataCenter, Yum ranks as the 39th biggest national advertiser, with U.S. ad spending across all brands at $882.4 million last year. Of that, a little less than a quarter is devoted to marketing Pizza Hut.
The 2011 Super Bowl sold out unusually early and is slated to be largely dominated by car advertisers, many of which sat out past games amidst the recession. Now car makers are making a play to announce new-product offerings; expect to see ads from General Motors, Chrysler, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, Hyundia and Kia. Other regular advertisers returning include brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev, which will have as many as eight spots, and Bridgestone, which is again the halftime sponsor and will have two ads in the game. Along with Pizza Hut, another first-timer this year will be Best Buy.
For more on who's buying what in the game, see Ad Age's Super Bowl ad chart.