Martin Agency Wins Pizza Hut

Yum! Brands has awarded lead creative duties on its Pizza Hut brand to The Martin Agency after a review, the client confirmed today.

The decision came after a full day of presentations in New York. The other finalist, Interpublic Group’s Gotham in New York, went first, followed by Martin, according to a client representative. Each agency got about three hours to present to executives from Pizza Hut and Yum!, including the latter’s CEO, David Novak, said sources.

“Throughout this process we’ve been impressed with the creativity and insights-led approach that The Martin Agency embodies,” said Pizza Hut chief marketing officer Brian Niccol, in a statement. “The Martin Agency team understands our business, knows our customers and realizes the unique opportunity before us. I’m energized by the exciting changes that are in store for our brand.”

Pizza Hut’s major media spending totaled $275 million last year and $165 million in the first nine months of 2009, according to Nielsen. Those figures don’t include online spending.

The winner succeeds Omnicom Group’s BBDO, which had handled the brand since 1987. A “happy” Mike Hughes, president of IPG’s Martin, referred calls to the Dallas-based client.

“Pizza Hut is an iconic, culturally resonant brand that appeals to a mainstream-American audience we know very well,” said John Adams, chairman and CEO of The Martin Agency, in a statement. “It gives us a great deal of pleasure and pride to assist Pizza Hut on the next step of their incredible journey.”

Pizza Hut launched the review in September, saying at the time that it was seeking “innovative consumer-insight-led advertising.”

In October, the client narrowed its focus to five finalists, including MDC Partners’ Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners, Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi and Omnicom Group’s Merkley + Partners. Kirshenbaum exited in early November — just a day before a creative work session — and the client cut Saatchi and Merkley about two weeks ago, leaving Martin and Gotham.

New York consultancy Lee Anne Morgan & Partners managed the process with help from Alan Krinsky.