Would you like binoculars with your order?

June 9, 2009 by Dave Haynes

Well, this will all but ensure I never get a contract from Pizza Hut, but here goes …

From MediaWeek:

As Pizza Hut moves toward rebranding its locations as The Hut, an integral part of the effort is an in-store digital video network designed to engage customers. Called Hut TV, the new video net has already been installed in 20 stores in Jacksonville, Fla., and four in Dallas. The chain plans to roll out the network to more locations into 2010.

The largest player in the category, Pizza Hut is looking to offset stagnant same-store sales by positioning itself as a solution for home meals with new menu items, and enhancing the in-store experience for the customer. “We’re in the middle of the transformation of the Pizza Hut brand, both in terms of how our store looks and creating a different consumer experience we’re calling The Hut,” said Bob Kraut, vp of marketing for Pizza Hut. “Hut TV is a way to engage and entertain customers and make those who own our stores feel better about Pizza Hut.”

Hut TV’s video content is designed to enhance the in-store experience by entertaining customers, decreasing perceived wait time, increasing frequency of visits and promoting specials. The largest of the screen’s three sections features entertainment (trivia or games) or short customized segments from CBS-produced programs such as Wheel of Fortune or Entertainment Tonight. CBS also provides a news ticker at the bottom of the screen. The screen’s right-hand area is devoted to Pizza Hut’s menu, from ingredients to special promotions. Eventually, Pizza Hut may sell ad space to its suppliers, but for now Hut TV is all about engaging the customer.

So these guys have taken a perfectly good idea, and blew it up real good by screwing up the programming model with a screen full of crap. The MediaWeek sliver of the screen suggests the text on the ubiquitous news ticker will be be teeny, as will the menu items.


So you invest the money and resources into a digital program to entertain customers and drive sales, and put up useless, predictable content and make the menu items so small no one could read them without binoculars.

Arrgh. Another blown opportunity to show off the impact of digital in retail.

Hut TV was borne out of Mediaedge:cia’s expanding role from a media shop to a communications planning agency, providing expertise that once was the domain of promotional agencies. “We’re moving out of our [traditional] role…by helping Pizza Hut figure out how to touch their various customer touch points,” said Dave Sommer, managing partner for MEC Retail, formed in 2006 when Mediaedge:cia purchased retail and shopper marketing consultancy Retail MediaLink. 

Go back to media planning guys. You’re good at that.



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