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Pizza Hut enlists Ninja Turtles, augmented reality to reintroduce Cheesy Bites

Pizza Hut is deploying augmented reality and a hashtag campaign to help reintroduce a menu favorite, Cheesy Bites pizza, as part of its partnership with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles around the upcoming reboot of the film. 

The pizza chain is reintroducing its Cheesy Bites pizza to go along with the campaign, which will differ from previous collaborative campaigns given the digital initiatives. The two brands, known to appeal to younger generations, reinstate themselves with a mobile twist to reach the tech-savvy Generation Z-ers.

“There is no denying that both the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Pizza Hut are iconic brands with a rich history, so it was really exciting to tug on that nostalgia as we bring the brands forward,” said Courtney Moscovic, associate manager of public relations at Pizza Hut, Dallas. “We expect the return of Cheesy Bites will get the attention of our loyal fans and partnering with a summer blockbuster movie will bring in a ton of new customers as well.”

Rebooting an appetite
The campaign incorporates the hashtag #TBTMNT, which is active on Twitter and Instagram and encourages submissions centered on fans’ old turtle costumes and “turtle swag.” The hashtag reflects the “throwback” trend seen prevalently on social media. The best submissions can win gift cards and other prizes.

All box toppers for Cheesy Bites pizzas will feature a mobile-activated augmented reality experience containing extended movie footage and additional content. Furthermore, Pizza Hut will maintain a Tumblr page hosting user submissions regarding their prized memories of the Ninja Turtles and pizza favorites.

As of July 7, Pizza Hut began offering the Cheesy Bites pizza to customers for $12. The campaign will last through the summer, as the film hits theaters August 8.

Nothing but cheesy
In the past, Pizza Hut has found success in partnering with sectors in the entertainment industry to promote its own business.

Pizza Hut partnered with Blake Shelton to launch a line of barbeque pizzas teased by mobile activation, enabling fans to submit a selfie with an in-store cutout of the country music star, which it is calling a “Shelfie.” Fans could post and share “Shelfies” socially to win free pizzas and prizes.

The selfie has quickly grown to be a leading digital trend, and marketers have seemed eager to experiment and leverage its engagement factors into existing campaigns (see story).

Furthermore, Pizza Hut spent the majority of 2013 widening its mobile presence to increase sales and bring the restaurant chain  into the era of modern marketing. Pizza Hut chalked up the growth in online and mobile orders in 2013 primarily to the increase in sales made via the mobile Web versus through applications.

Similar to other pizza chains, mobile continues to play an important role for Pizza Hut in driving sales. Earlier in 2013, the pizza chain hit $1 billion in revenue from mobile and online orders, representing one-third of orders (see story).

These numbers have since increased, as Pizza Hut’s efforts continue to aim towards a more modern experience for young users.

“Our Cheesy Bites Pizza has been a fan favorite for a long time, and we felt it was the perfect complement for our partnership with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” Ms. Moscovic said. “The Turtles are growing up, and so are their tastes in pizza, so we wanted to tie it to one of our most popular pizzas of all time.”

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon, editorial assistant for Mobile Commerce Daily, New York