Lessons in fucking yourself up: Pizza Hut rebrands into Pasta Hut

With the most brilliant brains worldwide kept busy by the financial crisis, and the so-so brains as well, stupidity has been free to roam around, eventually getting a hold of Pizza Hut. It has recently announced its decision to temporarily (?) change its name to Pasta Hut to celebrate its pasta offering.

And by temporary, they don’t mean a short term stunt like the brilliant 7-11 / Simpson rebranding of KwiK-E-Mart.

They mean “multi-million ad campaign and store rebranding” short term.

That is, “months” short term.

That is, “let’s try this and see how it goes, and if it fails we had already announced it would be short term anyway” short term.

And why in the world do that?!

This is where it gets interesting: the answer is a combination of most of what’s wrong and stupid in brand management:

  1. Their core product has become more expensive, so instead of trying to work that problem around and redefine the value proposition, why not change what we stand for?
  2. Pizza can be deemed as too fat for today’s healthy diet trends. Someone should tell folks at Pizza Hut that pasta is not that much lighter a dish: both feature elaborated toppings that add a significant amount of calories to a dish already rich in carbohydrates. (Oh, and since we’re there already, someone could also mention that Carl’s Jr is enjoying same store sales increase staying true to what they stand for: bigger, fatter burgers. Funny, huh!)
  3. They think there’s a problem of communication: not enough people know that they offer pasta, too. Now, Pizza Hut has been offering pasta dishes since 1975: chances are, anyone who is even remotely likely to be a Pizza Hut consumer already knows they do pasta.
  4. The best bit is: research (could it be missing?) showed that consumers wanted more variety eating out. Now, without even wondering if, faced with the choice of wanting more or less variety, someone would ever opt for less, does Pizza Hut believe that changing its name to Pasta Hut will make people believe that they’ll offer greater variety? Or will they just think “Oh, they used to make pizza, now they make Pasta”? And for Christ’s sake, you’re a freaking restaurant! You want to show your potential consumers that you offer a variety of food? Stick a damn menu out of your damn windows! That’s what restaurants do!

If I were to judge this operation, here’s a few questions I’d ask:

– What kind of consideration does management at Pizza Hut have of its own brand, to believe that it can dispose of it so easily?

– How much money will be wasted on trying to overcome a brand perception that has been built over the years?

– Like it or not, Pizza Hut is the leading brand in fast pizza: how much money will it take to achieve a similar position in the fast pasta market?

– How much money will it take to get your brand back to where it was, should this operation fail?

– I know it would have required some real brain, but wouldn’t it have made more sense to try and fix the pizza business, thas is the only reason to be for Pizza Hut in the minds of consumers, and develop some Pasta Hut franchises alongside, like Mc Donald’s did with the successful Mc Cafe?

I think it’s important to point out that the decision to enter the pasta category “very aggressively” can make very much sense, as there’s no established leader in the industry, and Pizza Hut can count on an established distribution, as well as relationships with consumers. What I don’t get is why you have to kill yourself in the process.

(That is, assuming that the rebranding will last for a decent amount of time. Otherwise, noone’s going to remember it in a few months, and the whole thing would have only been a waste of time. But not of brand, at least)

 

Final Burp: Best Comment Award goes to Jim Prior, on Brand Republic: “It is a bit of a puerile idea; the sort of thing the chair-man’s wife comes up with at Sunday lunch”

Advertisements

2 responses to “Lessons in fucking yourself up: Pizza Hut rebrands into Pasta Hut

  1. They also dont own pastahut.com and other international domians.

  2. Great post! You cover off all the angles perfectly. Would love to have you speak at the London PR & Branding Group.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s