a story to every place and Pizza Hut has just written its own.
The pizza chain, which launched in India over a decade ago, has decided to undergo a brand transformation, complete with a revamped look for its outlets, an expanded menu to include more courses of meals, a new logo (the quintessential 'hat' has been retained but tweaked), and baseline.
Pizza Hut will now focus on the new thought, 'Stories Happen', in an effort to enhance and encourage the dine-in experience as opposed to takeaways and home delivery. A total of Rs 50 crore will be pumped into this activity over the next three years, starting with Mumbai and Delhi and then moving on to Pune, Chandigarh and Bengaluru.
With its expanded menu and revamped look, Pizza Hut wants to become a fancy dine-in experience where people can spend a lot of time, as opposed to just a place where one comes and goes.
"This transition in our strategy signifies an important turning point for Pizza Hut in India. As a business, we have been present in the country since 1996, but in the Indian market, we have always been wrongly compared and pitted against other pizza delivery chains or even quick service restaurants, which are segments which Pizza Hut is not a part of. The introduction of the enhanced dine-in concept will distinctly position us in the casual dining segment and reinforce our leadership in the space," says Niren Chaudhary, managing director, Yum Restaurants India.
"In that kind of relaxed ambience and time spent, human interaction becomes important," says Swati Bhattacharya, executive creative director and vice-president, JWT Delhi.
Revealing the core idea behind the new baseline, she says, "When humans bump into each other, loads of stories are traded, so we want to position Pizza Hut as a place where each table and its occupants have a story to tell." In other words, the venue becomes just as important as what you're eating. The new tagline, 'Stories Happen', captures the spirit of Pizza Hut as a place where people bond, forge strong friendships and create great memories while sharing food.
This perhaps sounds like Pizza Hut is on the same turf as Barista, when it shifted from a café to a lounge experience, and Café Coffee Day, when it changed its baseline to 'A lot can happen over a cup of coffee'. "See, while these outlets target the college going gang much more, we hope to go for the 24+ types," explains Bhattacharya.
Secondly, Pizza Hut offers a wider menu for greater time spent as also personalised touches such as birthday celebrations (if the waiters get to know it's your birthday, they sing and dance for you in the outlet). "A Barista doesn't offer such personalisation," she says.
Bhattacharya defends 'Stories Happen' with a last thought: "There is always a Barista time in a day or in a relationship. Pizza is a food designed for sharing/ intimacy and in that sense, meal time is less casual than a coffee."
The last campaign for Pizza Hut was the Ring 'o' Garlic one, which didn't feature any celebrities. Whether 'Stories Happen' will feature celebs or not is undecided at this point, although Lara Datta and Kunal Kapoor launched the new concept in an outlet at Juhu, Mumbai.
The campaign will initially be a tactical one in major cities, starting with Mumbai, inviting people to try out the revamped look, feel and menu. This involves press and outdoor ads. 'Stories Happen' will be a thematic campaign (comprising television as well) which will roll out in a few weeks. "We want a dialogue with consumers, rather than just a pizza eatery experience," says Bhattacharya of JWT.
Pizza Hut's brand transformation strategy of 'Enhanced Dine-In' is a part of a global re-imaging exercise that has already been implemented in countries such as Hong Kong and the UK.