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Pizza Hut’s new selfie campaign is anything but cheesy

Pizza Hut has 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 may post and share “Shelfies” socially to win free pizzas and prizes. The selfie has quickly grown to be a leading digital trend and marketers seem eager to experiment and leverage its engagement factors into existing campaigns.

“Consumers see the commercials and hear the buzz and social chatter that is generated when a brand like Pizza Hut partners with a celebrity like Blake Shelton,” said Courtney Moscovic, a Pizza Hut spokeswoman.

“The ‘Shelfie’ program allows them to be part of that relationship in their own way via their personal social channels, and the content is very sharable.”

Embracing ego
In its celebration of two iconic American traditions, backyard barbequing and country music, Pizza Hut is seeking to use authenticity through self-portraiture to characterize the personality of the new line.

Next week, fans will have the chance to snap a picture with a life-sized Blake Shelton cutout, who proudly holds his new Blake’s Smokehouse BBQ pie. Sharing your moment in the lime light is encouraged through sharing with the hashtag #BBQWithBlake.

History gets smoky
In January 2013, about a dozen brands on Facebook put the selfie on blast as a central marketing component, and by December that same year, the number increased to over 207. Twitter use saw similar growth as selfie integration rose from 252 to 780 brands, according to the shorty awards.

While self-portraiture was once only the province of the wealthy elite in terms of status or skill, smartphones and other digital tech have democratized selfies making them less precious and more fun.

How brands are dabbling
Many brands are turning to celebrities to sell the selfie.

Turkish Airlines collaborated with NBA champion Kobe Bryant and international soccer star Lionel Messi as the faces of a #SelfieShootout contest in December 2013, in which fans could upload selfies for a chance to win a free flight. The campaign became one of the travel industry’s most viral campaigns of the past year.

In addition to sharing selfies on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, the brand demonstrated how the images could be effectively integrated through YouTube as well. The ad, which received more than 130 million views in just two weeks after its release, inspired the airline to create its own Selfshot app for iOS.

Selfies are popular with celebrities who cultivate their fans because in their rawness, selfies are immediate, intimate and enhance a celebrity’s connection to their fans.

Also during last year’s holiday season, fashion retailer Urban Hilton Weiner gave customers a $10 coupon if they tweeted a selfie of themselves trying on clothes using the hashtag #urbanselfie. Selfies that were uploaded to the company’s Facebook Page and garnered the most likes, entered fans to win a weekend trip to New York, London, or Tokyo.

This campaign not only encouraged more people to visit in-store, but also capitalized on something that many consumers were already doing. With the hashtag, the brand was able to leverage this activity and take advantage of shoppers sharing selfies with their networks.

Selfies offer the opportunity for marketers to learn about people by accumulating information over time.

“Mobile and social engagement play a crucial role in all campaigns whether product launches or timely engagement programs,” Ms. Moscovic said.

“They are important platforms to us because they are important platforms in the lives of our customers, and we believe in constant evolution of our mobile and social experiences to meet changing customer needs.”

Final Take:
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York