Inside Pizza Hut’s Sports Marketing Strategy with Marianne Radley, CBO of Pizza Hut US

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Marianne Radley has been the Chief Brand Officer of Pizza Hut since February of 2018. In this role, she oversees the company’s brand strategy, marketing and advertising efforts, customer acquisition, food innovation and culinary initiatives. This, of course, includes the brand’s many activations within the sports world.

FOS Editor Ian Thomas sat down with Radley for a wide-ranging conversation on the brand’s sports marketing goals, how they plan to take advantage of the Super Bowl this year, and why how they execute their “RED” philosophy.

Edited highlights appear below:

On executing at the NFL Draft in Nashville (05:16)

Radley: “It’s a moment of hope that even the worst teams have this moment of hope that they’re going to be the best team of the season. We wanted to capture that a little bit and we wanted to make it exciting for people that are in the parking lot. Either they can’t get in or they’re going in, that they’re having some sort of engagement and some take home with them. So we built out a big activation area. We gave away free pizzas, which always goes well. A lot of our players came by and had some fan interaction. We create a 360 experience because our big kick was the doorbell dance. We see the touchdown dance and how do we tie football and pizza in with a touchdown dance? It’s really when you get your pizza delivered at home, you’re kind of doing a doorbell dance saying ‘yeah, my pizza’s here, my wings are here. I’m ready.’ So we created a doorbell dance experience there and just got fans engaged and excited about it.”

On player marketing (6:23)

Radley: “Prior to the season, we elected to work with four teams. They’re the Rams, the Chargers, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Seattle Seahawks and three of the four teams made it to the postseason…And then every player contract we have, there’s always a moral clause in it…We really don’t need to take ourselves too seriously, but we want to make sure we have players that are authentic and have that core love for the brand and for the product and had some sort of memory about pizza and a great experience. Like Todd Gurley was just great. He is very connected with his pizza back home in the Carolinas and when he goes home he’s always shooting videos of himself where he picks up a bunch of pizzas and brings them for local kids in the neighborhood. We want to be with good players. It’s great if they’re good on the field, but it’s even better when they’re good off the field. And that’s what our approach is. So for us, it was locking in the teams, locking in some players and getting content and getting some really relevant and authentic connections with our brand.”

On executing during the Super Bowl (26:59)

Radley: “I was very happy with our team and what they were able to accomplish for Super Bowl…We had our Super Bowl babies, so that was taking it from really opening up to people that were actually delivering, uh, you know, we were saying all our players over deliver all the time over there. I’m going to actually people that are delivering on Super Bowl day that the first baby born after kickoff one free that family one free pizza for a year and tickets and next year’s super bowl. We also did the two local markets in LA and up in New England, we had pizzas delivered to all the maternity wards that people that were delivering babies Super Bowl. So again, tying back into that family element.”

On achieving success in brand marketing (40:31)

Radley: “I think anyone who’s in this space knows that there’s a tremendous amount of opportunity. The biggest thing that I tell our team is you need to be authentic and you have to be real. And it’s not just about your brand, it’s about your person too. Your word is your word. Don’t be a jerk, you know? We have a no assholes policy at Pizza Hut…If you’re an asshole, we really don’t want you to be part of our brand.”