Can Pizza Hut Outdo Itself With These Sitcom-Style Ads From Viacom?

Millennial spots extend core campaign

Maladjusted millennial braggarts choose Pizza Hut. Let's all go there today!

Running on Viacom's cable-TV networks, this goofy campaign for the restaurant chain targets young adults, presenting folks who get their kicks by outdoing one another in various situations. The ads were created in-house by content unit Viacom Velocity and amplify the line, "No one out-pizzas the Hut," introduced last year in ads from Droga5.

"When we can get people to laugh, and often laugh at themselves, it really resonates," Ken Saji, creative director at Viacom Velocity, tells AdFreak. "And instead of doing one-off spots, we wanted to create a franchise—almost like a sitcom series—that all of the creative could live under."

Four 30-second commercials were tailored to match the vibe of various Viacom properties. For example, the first ad below, running on MTV and Spike, focuses on rock-band fandom, and features the scariest air-guitar-solo-face of all time:

 

 
"We needed a band name for the crazy fan's T-shirt," Saji recalls. "Options included: Impossible Hockey, Underwater Teen, Two-Acre Haircut, Rumika's Revenge. We went with Fire Knife."

Dude, get back in the editing suite. Impossible Hockey! Impossible Hockey!

Meanwhile, an ad running on Comedy Central combines workplace humor, puppies and DJs. (Wait, do millennials even have jobs?)

 

 
"During every break, people ran and lined up to hold the puppies," says Saji. "Also, they were rescues, and up for adoption. Crew members posted photos and links to the shelter to help them find a home."

Finally, for the TVLand and CMT crowd, comes this pretentiously pompous playdate:

 

 
This spot was filmed at a private home in suburban Los Angeles. "During the shoot, the boy who lived there needed to come back to get his clarinet," says Saji. "He couldn't get in until one of the scenes was over and waited patiently on the street."

Sorry, kid, that's showbiz.

Like the products they promote, these ads fall into a familiar comfort zone. That's because the wacky pizza-commercial trope has been dished out by Domino's, Little Caesars and Pizza Hut seemingly forever. Just follow the recipe—a pinch of oddball here, a dash of wacky there—and you've got a piping-hot pie of a campaign. (Or a tepid pile of dough, depending on one's personal taste.)

Here, the cast works hard to wring laughs from the material, and the performers are fairly funny, though they get kind of shouty at times.

Some wags might argue the funniest line is the tag, and take a swipe at the chain's infamously generic cuisine by suggesting that practically anyone could, in all likelihood, out-pizza the Hut. We'd never dream of being that saucy. And in Viacom's defense, that's an inherited positioning, albeit one that should probably be sliced into nonexistence post haste.

All told, in keeping with Pizza Hut tradition, this campaign isn't exactly the tastiest stuff around. It's predictable, lowest-common-denominator fare, but not half bad, and satisfying if you're in the right frame of mind.

"All the actors were given to option to take their bites of the pizza and spit—a common practice," says Saji, "and they all decided to eat it."

No one can out-starve actors. They'll eat anything.

CREDITS
Client: Pizza Hut
Agency: Viacom Velocity
EVP, Chief Creative Officer – Niels Schuurmans
SVP, Creative – Chris Carlson
VP, Creative Director – Ken Saji
Director – Evan Silver
Copywriter – Zac Coe
Executive Producer – Deb Reichman
Production Management Director – Jeff Woodton
Production Manager – Ashlee Alves
Line Producer – Chris Zimmer
Editor – Tommy Shull
Assistant Editor – Luigi Romano
Project Management Director – Ellie Miltner
Designer – Ayla Nucum
Motion Graphics – Rob Cerrato, York Capistrano
Sound – Eddie Cooper, Plush NYC
Color – Gary Scarpulla, Nutmeg
Integrated Marketing Director – Meredith Kohlbecker
Integrated Marketing Managers – Carly McElroy, Stacy Katz
Media Agency – Optimedia