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SYDNEY-Pizza Hut, the market leader here in home-delivered food, is doubling its ad budget this year by adding a $4 million image-building campaign to the $4 million it invests in promotional ads.

The new effort, designed to help Pizza Hut take an even bigger slice of the $3 billion Australian fast-food pie, is themed "Pizza Hut: A slice of life," and was created by its agency of record, Clemenger BBDO.

The TV and point-of-purchase campaign, which began May 1, aims at reinforcing the value of Pizza Hut and positions the chain as a family-oriented place.

The first image advertising for Pizza Hut in at least five years, the campaign balances the deep discounting touted in regular promotional ads, a move Pizza Hut was forced to make because of the price-cutting of its two main rivals.

While its direct competition is Domino's and hundreds of local pizza parlors, Pizza Hut, with about half of the $600 million pizza segment, considers its real competition McDonald's Family Restaurants and KFC. Also a rival, to a lesser extent, is the little advertised Sizzler Retaurants. Although market shares in the fast food industry are not available, it's widely accepted that McDonald's is the market leader, followed by KFC as No. 2 and Pizza Hut as No. 3.

The new Pizza Hut spots show the chain's energetic staff on the job eager to please customers and relates the Pizza Hut brand to the friendly, laidback Australian way of life. Staffers are seen enjoying their jobs as they prepare pizzas and serve customers. The audio is casual conversation, such as a staffer saying, "Here's your pizza, sir," when serving a customer.

The spots contrast with McDonald's ads, created by DDB Needham, which use footage of the late U.S. film stars Marilyn Monroe and James Dean. KFC spots by John Singleton Advertising feature Australian entertainers joking about price cutting. In one spot, each tries to outdo the other, making claims about how much food they can get at McDonald's and at a takeout Chinese restaurant for under $20.

A compelling reason for Pizza Hut's attempt to convey a quality/value image is the price-slashing contest taking place in the industry. By offering a variety of promotional packages, Pizza Hut in May in effect cut prices 15% to 20% following earlier reductions by its two main rivals. One of its latest offers, made in a direct mail flyer, is any two large pizzas and a tub of ice cream for $12.75, or any large pizza, garlic bread and tub of salad for $11.

"This whole exercise is a branding/quality move," said Jim Collier, the chain's VP-business development. "There is a lot of aggressive value marketing going on in the fast-food industry."

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