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Pizza Hut and The Selfie-Stick Agenda

I eat Pizza Hut more often than any self-respecting New Seasons customer has the right to. Not because Pizza Hut is particularly good (though one could argue any food item based on the principle that melted cheese is delicious is always some level of good), but because it is fast and cheap, and thus allows me to make up for the time I lose deciphering organic and GMO labels while grocery shopping.

Recently, however, Pizza Hut has further incurred my loyalty by calling into sharp relief one of the great humanitarian struggles of our time: the selfie stick. “Humanitarian” because those of us who make do with the arm-shaped selfie stick provided to us by evolution—in the event there is no other human being who could conceivably indulge us in a moment of vanity—have to actively resist the urge to turn the selfie stick against its user by fashioning it into a baton.

I apologize if that’s a step too far in expressing my disdain at the existence of such a contraption, but unless you’re jumping out of a plane, windsurfing, or otherwise doing something where an expanded focal range is necessary to capture the fullness of your experience…I just don’t see the point.

Pizza Hut’s video uses the familiar “PSA” trope to explore the collective frustrations of those of us unable to get on the selfie stick train, and slip in a reference to their new two-foot dipper pizza*. The video is almost a stand-alone piece, were it not for a quick shot of a pizza delivery guy nearly halfway through. There’s nothing particularly revolutionary about this ad, as more and more brands are prioritizing generating viral content over elevating brand/product messaging in their marketing strategy, but it is an interesting, if short-sighted, product launch strategy.

Instead of the standard, shout-y, thirty-second spot attempting to argue that there’s something innovative about this new iteration of melted cheese on bread, Pizza Hut pokes fun at the selfie and the selfie stick, while encouraging, it seems, their customers to do just that: take a selfie with their new pizza. In his brief appearance, handsome delivery guy mutters “This better end up on Instagram.” Pizza Hut’s CTA is clear (this pizza is an event worth a selfie) but they fall flat in one critical area: there’s no conversion point. Selfie-taking is narcissism at its finest (as they point out in the video); the selfie taker wants to maximize the number of people that see their self-directed masterpiece.

If there had been a custom hashtag under the logo in the final shot and photos that used the tag entered the selfie-taker to win a Pizza Hut pizza party like the one in the video, or if the tagged photos auto-populated to a feed on the Pizza Hut site, then this ad not only to garners a viral response, but also delivers measurable value by driving engagement, creating positive brand engagement, and generating content the brand could leverage and repurpose to sell their new product.

Alas, while I think Pizza Hut missed a great opportunity to maximize their ROI with this video, the battle against selfie sticks has gained a valuable ally.

* Not to be confused with the bacon-topped, bacon-wrapped pizza that Little Caesar’s is currently peddling in what I assume is a thinly-veiled effort at population control.

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