Pizza Hut stunt a success

Restaurant chain hopes the name change from Pasta Hut will revitalise high-street brand.

Pizza or Pasta?
Pizza or Pasta?

Look no further than the high-street pizzeria Pizza Hut for evidence that companies pay attention to consumer movements.

As health concerns continue to feature heavily in the media - such as Jamie's Ministry of Food on Channel 4 - Pizza Hut has taken the bold decision to trial a name change to Pasta Hut in selected branches in an attempt to revitalise the brand's image.

The decision to change the established brand name has sparked interest across the media, with consumers being allowed to vote on the name change at Pastahut.co.uk.

However, there has also been cynicism from critics, who suggest that the change is nothing more than an elaborate piece of PR. Doubters believe the company will eventually revert to its original name in time, claiming that Pizza Hut is back "due to popular demand".

Nevertheless, the considerable publicity surrounding the brand's name change should not be overlooked. The Pasta Hut campaign featured heavily in newspapers and on TV, with the television ad campaign first airing on 7 October.

The television ad features a couple sitting in a Pizza Hut restaurant tucking into "The Alfredo", one of the new pasta dishes available. The girl suggests to her boyfriend that the restaurant should change its name to Pasta Hut, and the name on the restaurant's sign duly changes, accompanied by fireworks and a marching band.

So, following the mixed reviews from consumers to date, what has happened to Pizza Hut's scores on BrandIndex?

As expected, the amount of panellists who responded, either positively or negatively, has increased after the launch of the campaign.

There has been a greater increase in positive buzz than in negative buzz, leading to Pizza Hut's net buzz score increasing by five points since the ad first aired, to 7% on 10 October.

Furthermore, the increase seen in the brand's corporate score, which was up eight points to -16% on 13 October, suggests the firm's healthier approach to eating has been acknowledged by respondents.

Whether solely a PR stunt or not, early signs show that Pizza Hut's much-discussed rebranding strategy is so far helping to boost the brand's lacklustre image.

Richard Wood, www.brandindex.co.uk

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