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How Pizza Hut Infiltrated the World of Call of Duty Warzone

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Jake Barrow, group ECD, Sydney/Melbourne for VMLY&R and VMLY&R Commerce tells Esther Faith Lew why brands must see themselves as “uninvited guests who add value”

How Pizza Hut Infiltrated the World of Call of Duty Warzone


Pizza Hut Australia’s alignment with the gaming community reached a higher level of engagement with its recent Pizza HuNt activation. It offered players the opportunity to order free pizzas in Call of Duty Warzone as part of its ongoing Hut Games – Pizza Hut.

“Pizza Hut had already been running their “Hut Games” activity and were using streamers to engage with the gaming audience. We shared the idea with Pizza Hut, and within a few days, we made it happen,” says Jake Barrow, Group ECD, Sydney/Melbourne for VMLY&R and VMLY&R Commerce. 

The activation also capitalised on the launch of a new proximity chat function in Call of Duty, which provided the ideal springboard for players to effectively order pizzas in the Pizza HuNt. 
 
Gamers form an important target social group for Pizza Hut, and the brand already has an organic association with the community, so entering more directly into their world was an obvious next step - but they had to get it right.

LBB’s Esther Lew delves in with Jake to find out how the VMLY&R and VMLY&R Commerce teams brought the activation to life.




LBB> How does the campaign approach tie in with Pizza Hut’s brand positioning and strategy?


Jake> Pizza Hut’s positioning is to 'share good times'. Playing Call of Duty in a like-minded community perfectly ties in with this mantra and the Pizza HuNt is a creative commerce idea that brings together the audience and brand in a positive interaction. 

The tone of the activation was very fun, which suits the Call of Duty environment. It’s important to show up in the gaming world as one of them, rather than an outsider trying to ram a message down gamers’ throats. And for the brand, it’s important that we build in the mechanism for conversion directly into the experience and outcomes.  

 

LBB> What desired results were achieved from this activation? What was the participation like? How will it be leveraged to draw in more consumers for Pizza Hut?


Jake> The main aim was to continue to connect with and build our gaming audience, building loyalty while having sales impact. All the streamers who played the roles of pizza delivery people had huge online audiences themselves, so success for us was about them seeing the Pizza HuNt as entertainment, even if they weren’t participating themselves. 

Participation was amazing. People really got into hunting the delivery people and placing orders. We had 400 pizzas to give away on opening weekend, and with the success of that Pizza HuNt, we’re looking to reactivate this year. 

 

LBB> What are the mechanics behind Call of Duty? Could you take us through the backend production process of Call of Duty?


Jake> No big hacks, coding, or backend wizardry.  It was simply knowing a gaming platform well enough to be able to have a great idea work within its parameters. The production part of it for us was really just logistics. We used our existing gaming team of four streamers to play the part of the delivery people in-game. The process for reaching out to players was pretty simple. 

Firstly, our streamers were already talking about the promotion on their Twitch and Facebook live streams, so people could find out about it that way.  Then at the start of each game, they would also message the lobby so all players would know how to take part in the Pizza HuNt. Then, if they found us in-game and were within close enough proximity to use the new chat feature, we’d simply ask them to place an order. We’d then reach out privately so they would get their pizza. 




LBB> What were the creative and technical considerations to navigate?


Jake> Our biggest considerations were around making it a seamless and easy experience for the gamers. We’re a brand on their turf, so we wanted to ensure it was easy. Before the game starts, you only have a limited time to explain the instructions of the challenge, so we needed to be compelling and concise.   
 

LBB> In gaming, what are the important elements for engaging consumers?


Jake> I can’t stress enough that brands need to approach the gaming world as an uninvited guest. Make sure you’re adding value, make sure people can opt in or out, and make sure you show that you get gamers.  
 
We just needed to ensure it was authentic and meaningful, beyond just an ad placement. You can’t come into their world and interrupt them with the same pre-roll you’re running on YouTube. Everything within the Hut Games platform is managed authentically internally, by gamers, for gamers


LBB> How is this activation spinning off and creating more momentum for Pizza Hut to distinguish itself in the food and beverage industry?


Jake> Pizza Hut Australia is Australia’s fastest-growing QSR, and they have been building their crew in the gaming space for a while. Quick-fire, innovative ideas like this only fuel our ambition. I would expect you will be writing more articles about Pizza Hut Australia this year.  
 

LBB> What’s your take on the potential of gaming for brands, and how do you see this trend developing in the F&B industry?


Jake> I think the trend has well and truly developed.  The audience is massive and the potential is infinite. The big difference in the gaming space, as opposed to traditional media, is it’s always evolving. What you couldn’t do yesterday, you can do today. And what becomes possible today will be old-news next week. That’s the challenge, but that’s the fun. 


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VMLY&R Sydney, Wed, 25 Jan 2023 12:53:00 GMT