Pizza Hut Beats Sunday Rush Hours

DALLAS In preparing for its biggest Sunday of the year, Pizza Hut developed a new product, hired the Muppets and bought nine TV spots leading up to the Super Bowl, the company said.

Instead of fighting for time during the game, Pizza Hut had its media planner, Mediaedge:cia, target the pre-game hours of 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., said Pizza Hut representative Patty Sullivan.

“We know that’s when people are still making up their minds about what to serve during the Super Bowl,” Sullivan said. “We’ve been advertising in the pre-game show for nine years.”

If this year follows the typical pattern, Pizza Hut will sell more than 2 million pizzas, and many customers are expected to order the new Dippin’ Strips pizza that will be advertised in spots created by BBDO of New York. The commercials feature the Muppets, including Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy.

“We used the Muppets last year because they resonate with families who are our customers,” Sullivan said.

Although the Muppets commercial will run for the first time before the Super Bowl kickoff on Feb. 6, Dippin’ Strips advertising debuted Jan. 23.

Instead of the traditional triangular cut, Dippin’ Strips’ narrow rectangular shapes can be dipped in any of three sauces that come with the pizza.

Pizza Hut is backing Dippin’ Strips with a $20 million marketing program that includes national network and cable television, print, radio and online ads. An Hispanic TV spot, bilingual print and in-restaurant point of purchase materials are also part of the mix, the company said. Omnicom’s Dieste Harmel & Partners handles the chain’s Hispanic advertising.

Dallas-based Pizza Hut, part of the Yum! Brands of Louisville, Ky., represents about 16 percent of the $37 billion in national pizza sales, according to company estimates.