Pizza Hut Hands $217M Media Account to Optimedia

Move Is Another Blow for MEC

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Publicis Groupe 's Optimedia has been awarded Pizza Hut's media account after a review.

"As the media landscape evolves, opening new and exciting ways to connect with our customers, we're excited to begin working with Optimedia to launch a refreshed media strategy in 2012," Kurt Kane, Pizza Hut CMO, said in a statement to Ad Age . "Pizza Hut is the leader in the pizza category and we're looking forward to tapping in to Optimedia's strategic planning and creativity to further our lead. MEC has been a valued partner that brought strategic insights and solid planning to our brand for more than a decade. We are parting ways amicably and wish them the best."

WPP-owned MEC, which handled the business for more than 10 years, defended the account. Other shops that participated in the review were Interpublic Group of Cos.' Universal McCann and Interpublic-owned Ingenuity Media, an arm of the Martin Agency, which handles Pizza Hut's creative and digital. Consultancy Select Resources oversaw the review.

The Yum Brands pizza giant kicked off the review of its $217 million U.S. media account in late June, following the consolidation of its creative and digital marketing duties within Martin Agency, which it began working with in 2009, earlier in the month.

The loss of the Pizza Hut media account is a blow to MEC, which earlier this year parted ways with Activision. Also in review on the MEC roster are Novartis, worth about $600 million globally, and Toys 'R Us, worth about $115.

Pizza Hut's 2010 U.S. same-store sales were up about 8%. Mr. Kane last year pinned a sales turnaround on $10 pizzas and two-click online ordering. But that 2010 growth has been tempered by the chain's 2011 earnings thus far: U.S. same-store sales were down 3% in the first quarter and 2% in the second quarter. Yum's overall same-store U.S. sales were down 4% in the second quarter, although the chain's international division same-store sales were up 2%.

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