Ads for Pizza Hut's 'Big New Yorker' are too far-out to be inflammatory
I've just begun to ponder the links in this "Big New Yorker" Pizza Hut commercial featuring a cartoonish Hillary Clinton-like figure. It aired only once, during the first game of the World Series, which the Yankees won, but already the "opportunistic synergies" (as an agency spokesperson called them) are killin' me!
First, there's the "no there there" aspect: The spot has already gotten gazillions of dollars in free media attention just by running once, so I'm not sure if it will air again in January, as originally planned. It also remains to be seen whether HRC will officially run for Senate or just raise tons of money and stay in the house in Chappaqua.
Certainly, there's a multilevel, circular-truth-in-advertising thing going on here. The tone of the commercial and the product match perfectly. The spot, with its loud, pretend campaign action and southern-accented pseudo-Hillary, and the Big New Yorker pizza are big, cheesy and fake.
But I don't mean this in a bad way. Necessarily, given the volume and national distribution of the pizza-like fast-food product, the Big New Yorker is to actual New York pizza what the chocolate-chip salsa bagel is to the crusty, boiled real thing. So there's a level of unreality in selling the Big New Yorker as anything other than a nice McSlice, which is why I thought it was brilliant to hop on the Hillary bandwagon. Any way you slice it, she's an imposter New Yorker, whether she's donning a headband or a Yankees cap.
Indeed, I believe creative director Charlie Miesmer when he says there was "nothing personal, political or conspiratorial here." Nor do I think the Pizza Hut creative group takes its marching orders from the board at Tricon Global Restaurants, the Louisville, Ky.-based parent company.
Miesmer said that in trying to come up with an idea to "refresh" the brand (the Big New Yorker debuted last January with ads featuring Fran Drescher, Donald Trump and Spike Lee), his team hit on making fun of someone claiming to be a resident.
"If we had a product named the Big Texan, and Rudy had decided to run from Texas, we would have probably made a commercial featuring a semi-balding guy with a New York accent," he said.
I'm sure that's true. But so is the fact that BBDO's Phil Dusenberry--along with the other agency guys on the Tuesday Team--was the lynchpin of Ronald Reagan's re-election effort, so there may be at least some quasi-Republican vibes in the air over there.
That said, however, the response from the Hillary camp to "go negative" and tell reporters to investigate the links between Tricon's board and Rudy's campaign funds is at best silly. If you look at the commercial, it's obviously very broad and obviously a big joke. It's way too over-the-top.
The candidate herself doesn't even really resemble Hillary--she looks more like Eleanor Clift by way of Eleanor Roosevelt. And I almost couldn't watch when the actress went on and on about how "big New York, big 16 inches across" it is, so I was relieved when she added, "How do I know so much about New York pizza? Because New York, I want to be your next senator!"
Hillary should have taken the high road and thanked Pizza Hut for all the free media the company has provided for her (non)campaign. Maybe she could've made a statement on the order of: "The commercial made me examine my past choices and rethink them. And indeed, I made some bad choices. Up to now, we were ordering Domino's in the White House!"
And the media cycle starts again.
Pizza Hut, "Senator"
BBDO, New York
Chief Creative Officer
Senior Executive CD
Wil Boudreau, Rick Midler
Charlie Miesmer, Wil Boudreau
Brian Schierman, Sasha Eden
Mike Bigelow/Coppos Films