Pizza Hut Begins ‘VIP’ Loyalty Promotion

NEW YORK In an effort to expand its customer base, Pizza Hut this week will debut its inaugural consumer loyalty program, dubbed VIP, and will test an offer in November in which customers get a free video with the purchase of a pizza.

In the VIP effort—which stands for “Very Into Pizza”—consumers at corporate locations in 23 markets pay $14.99 to join for a year. For signing up they receive a large pizza. Then for every two carryout or home delivery orders of at least $10, consumers receive a free large pizza (up to two free pizzas per month). Every month participants will get an order of free breadsticks or baked cinnamon sticks just for participating. Free food is redeemed via coupons that are automatically mailed to qualifying consumers.

Depending on the response, franchisees likely will be invited to join the program next year. Pizza Hut chief marketing officer Tom James said the program is designed to boost sales. “We’re testing a number of different offers,” he said.

Support likely will include TV and radio tags. BBDO, New York, handles advertising for Pizza Hut. Hawkeye|FFWD, New York, is the chain’s promotional agency.

For the video test, Pizza Hut is giving customers a free InDemand video with the purchase of a large pizza. The promotion will run in Minneapolis in November; if successful, it is expected to launch nationwide in 2004. James, however, would not confirm the test.

The effort is a variation of an earlier DVD promotion Pizza Hut used to launch its family-oriented “Gather round the good stuff” campaign [Brandweek, June 16]. The video promo will dangle more recent films, such as Anger Management, The Italian Job and The Matrix Reloaded.

Last week, the chain also launched the Pizza Hut Card, a store value debit card that comes in increments of $5 (up to $100). The card is positioned as a gift for the holiday season and beyond.