29 June 2009

United States of Generica: Pizza Hut Becomes “The Hut”

by Freddy J. Nager, Founder & Fusion Director, Atomic Tango LLC

No pizza for you!

No pizza for you!

What’s wrong with pizza? I love pizza! Yet fast food giant Pizza Hut is dropping the word “pizza” from some of its store names and packaging. While still officially called Pizza Hut, the chain will refer to itself as “The Hut” to reportedly make it a more appealing place for teens to hang out. Hey, we’re not a fast food joint, we’re a cool clubhouse!

Apparently, parent company Yum Brands hasn’t been paying attention to the problems at Starbucks and other “third place” hangouts.

The other reason for the name change is that Pizza Hut has diversified its menu to include pasta and other dishes. To which I say, so? Taco Bell sells more than tacos — will Yum Brands rename it “The Bell”?

(Oh, the commercial possibilities… Actress Elizabeth Berkley talks about the hunger she endured after Showgirls temporarily killed her career, but thanks to 99-cent burrito specials, she was “saved by The Bell”… Sorry, I digress.)

To further enhance The Hut, the chain is installing HDTV’s playing Hut TV. This in-house video channel will show customized features and segments from “Wheel of Fortune” and “Entertainment Tonight” — how appropriate: junk food for the mind.

Ultimately, I’m not sure what’s the point of having the young and the listless sit in your store all day. What’s to do there besides watch TV, eat, and sip endlessly from the all-you-can-drink soda fountain?…

Ooh. Suddenly, I get a vision of something else that was nicknamed “The Hutt”…

"I can haz pizza?"

"I can haz pizza?"

Or even worse, how about this character from the spoof Spaceballs

Pizza The Hutt

Pizza the Hutt: The costume took the actor 2 hours to put on, 3 hours to eat his way out.

You know, Yum Brands,  you’re right: hold the pizza — I’ll have a salad.

Related Post: United States of Generica 2: Radio Shack Becomes “The Shack”

Shameless plug: For naming strategies that make sense, contact Atomic Tango

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Freddy is the Founder & Creative Strategist of Atomic Tango. He also teaches graduate-level marketing communication courses at the University of Southern California (go Trojans!), shoots pool somewhat adequately, and herds cats. Freddy received his BA from Harvard and his MBA from USC.

2 Responses

  1. I’m not clear how this is going to work yet since all of the Pizza… sorry, all of “The Hut”‘s that I’ve seen in the LA area are Express pick-up and delivery stations only or are acting as a lamprey to a large entity (Taco Bell, Target, etc.). Where are the teens supposed to hang out and drink free soda? Is this a hip new standing room only hang out? Maybe other markets will be more adaptable to the new positioning.
    Also, Wheel of Fortune? Really? Nothing says cool like Pat Sajak.

  2. what are you going on about? heard of no such thing anywhere in the states.

    Freddy’s Comment: There’s this practice called “research.” You might try it sometime. Here, I’ll help you out with the first one…

    “Pizza Hut Makes a Name Change,” MSN, 6/19/2009

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