Sausage Or Pepperoni?

When I heard the morning radio at FM99.9 yesterday, I just heard the story that I’ve read several days ago, it’s Pizza Hut’s campaign about the presidential debate: Pizza Hut claims that if anyone has the courage to ask the candidates in the debate: Sausage or pepperoni ?In terms of their choices of pizza toppings, he/she would win lifelong pizza offers or cash rewards.

I just about this in Adage last week and it seems to generate both positive and negative feedbacks. Gawker has an article calling it “Just Make a Mockery of the American Democratic System on Live TV” while Slate’s Andrew McCarthy wrote a criticism of the campaign, saying that between this and Big Bird, the whole race appeared to be “devolving into some sort of bizarre episode of ‘The Bachelor.’ Some PR professional say it’s “a stupid idea”:”Is this really what we want our candidates to be talking about? Why muck up a serious debate with silly questions?” I also saw a lot of arguments online, some take the side of Pizza Hut, and some just keep saying it’s “Stupid”.

However as I heard from the host yesterday’s morning, he enjoyed this a lot and even said that’s the “only thing he expect tonight”. His words must be exaggerated, however I do agree Pizza Hut has its rationale as to take advantage of a democratic process to place a product placement. It creates an immediate discussion in the middle of a Presidential campaign that most Americans are focused on right now.

Similarly, 7-11 has done a small campaign associated with this presidential election. During this season, customer can select an Obama, Romney or a “nonpartisan cup”. However it hasn’t created much of the online engagement but it will help make a poll that are claimed to have predicted the result of the election since 2000.

Those campaigns obviously assemble that famous JetBlue’s “Leave the country” campaign since its also associated with the presidential election, which usually will help those brands including Pizza hut, seven-eleven and JetBlue lot’s of buzz. For seven-eleven, it’s more like a tradition to make a prediction, and for Pizza Hut, the only thing that we can see is a lot of free PR for them.

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6 Responses to Sausage Or Pepperoni?

  1. Ziwei Guo says:

    Thanks Amy for this interesting post on campaigns tied to current election.
    From my perspective, compared with the JetBlue’s amazing “Leave the country” campaign, Pizza Hut’s campaign seems to be a little bit ‘stupid’ to a certain extent as people who want to get a life-long pizza offer should embarrass themselves on live television before the president and millions of American people at the presidential debate.
    However, although there are both positive and negative views towards this campaign, at least Pizza Hut has sparked some conversations on media. Image that if someone does ask the candidate the question at the debate, Pizza Hut will immediately attract attention from millions of people and a ‘world of mouth’ phenomenon will begin. In addition, Pizza Hut also asks participants to submit their emails and be a member of Pizza Hut family to be engaged in this campaign, which allows it to gather their demographic information and do email marketing later.
    Another point I would like to make is that, both JetBlue and Pizza Hut don’t present any political views through the campaign. Recently, Chick-fil-A restaurant was given a national day from a politician who agreed with its owner’s political opinion but received negative feedback from customers who don’t agree. As a result, it would be better not to be mixed with politics. In terms of Pizza Hut, it doesn’t ask people to choose or promote a certain candidate but encourages people to watch the debate.

    • Amy Duan says:

      Hey Ziwei, thank you for your feedback:) I also agree that JetBlue and Pizza Hut are doing this in a smart way since they are being objective and don’t take any side so that they don’t offend anyone.
      I don’t think anybody would really post questions for life-long pizza, however it will look really interesting if someone really does it, so that people were kind of expecting it. That helped make this campaign viral.

  2. zhaoyunw says:

    Thank Amy for sharing this interesting campaign with us.

    It’s a pretty interesting and effective PR strategy that can evoke discussion among audiences. I don’t think Pizza Hut really plans to hear some shout “sausage or pepperoni?” during the president debate. The aim is to get people’s attention and attract them to try both pizzas. As far as I see, If someone really ask this question, it would not be that stupid. There will be a hugh amount of audiences out there hearing this question, and this definitely will be a hot buzz. Just like Romney’s “binders of women.” People won’t hate Pizza Hut because of this question. So, it’s a win-win strategy.

    As to 7-11, the marketing strategy is not controversial enough compared with Pizza Hut. But it will increase the in-store sales as consumers might think it is fun to have a special coffee cup to show their attitudes.

    • Amy Duan says:

      Thanks Zhaoyun, I agree that 7-11 campaign is more mild and looks quite peaceful. The value of 7-11 is that they have been holding the election pool for 12 years and they claimed their accurate predictions, which make people curious that, will they predict well this year?
      You are also right since people love to show their opinions and express themselves especially in a such an easy and fun way.

  3. June Xue says:

    Interesting content, Amy! Thanks for sharing this with us!

    Simply looking at the pictures could remind me of JetBlue’s campaign, which was designed to promote their new flight destinations. Although JetBlue has made a clever move by disguising its promotion purpose under the presidential election, I do not think Pizza Hut has achieved something similar.

    On one hand, Pizza Hut has generated a lot of buzz. Pizza fans or any pizza customers could be intrigued by the idea of “lifelong pizza offering” and Pizza Hut’s challenge for them to ask candidates about topping preferences seem to be very exciting.

    However, I’d like to point out that there is one definite difference between JetBlue’s campaign and Pizza Hut’s. In JetBlue’s campaign, by offering free flights to those who “are gonna leave the country once the presidential election result turns out to be against their wish”, JetBlue not only created buzz successfully, but also, more importantly, promoted its new travelling destinations. This publicity could bring them far-reaching benefits in the future, which is more than a fleeting stir. In contrast, Pizza Hut’s promotion probably will not bring them benefits in this regard. I think sometimes simply creating buzz might not be truly helpful to a brand. Creating buzz with a thoughtful purpose could make a better point.

    • Amy Duan says:

      Thanks June!
      Your perspective is definitely insightful. Jetblue’s campaign is more successful since they are doing this mostly for their own new marketing objective: promoting new destinations, meanwhile Pizza Hut’s kind of just taking advantage of this political events and generating PR and WOM. For the letter, Pizza Hut is kind of hard to predict if it’s mostly positive or negative. It also depends on the brand, since Pizza Hut currently don’t promote any new products.