Pizza Hut has announced that its new ad campaign will feature actual employees instead of celebrities. Setting aside potential costs of high-powered celebrity spokespeople, one advantage of using current employees is the authenticity factor. That is, whereas consumers might quickly question the motives of using celebrities (i.e., money), there might be some recognition and affinity with the everyday employee. This does not mean people cannot project motives, only that the risk is likely subdued.
It is also interesting that in the past other companies (e.g., McDonald’s) have employed this strategy; however, this is a new strategy for Pizza Hut. I am curious to see how the campaign will progress and how they will keep up enthusiasm and interest with this everyday employee angle. Its ads will also be an experiment to see if Pizza Hut can further build a brand message that will translate into sales.
Although celebrities can garner the coveted attention of consumers, they carry the risk of overshadowing the brand—not to mention that bad behavior of celebrities seems more prone to come to light and create further brand management problems. The average employee is not going to bring a lot of baggage to the brand which can confuse or overwhelm the average consumer. Now, whether they can make this concept enticing and appealing to the consumer, which is one of the advantages of celebrity spokespeople, is something I look forward to seeing.
The other interesting question, and of great relevance for our blog, is what we will actually see during the game. As of now, Pizza Hut has committed to only one Super Bowl spot. It’s not clear whether we will get a taste of this new campaign through social media channels or if we will have something designed specifically for the Super Bowl. With a larger campaign planned, something more unique might be an easier way to stand out from the competition. On the other hand, the Super Bowl offers the perfect venue to introduce the “authenticity” appeal and garner wide coverage.
Of course, this is always one of my favorite parts of the Super Bowl, and why I try not to see any commercials beforehand; I like to experience them in the moment. One thing is for sure, Tim, me, and the rest of the Super Bowl panel will have some thoughts to share on game day!