Mocking Pizza Hut Only Makes Them Stronger
In 2012, Pizza Hut unveiled a special promotion for Valentine's Day. You could arrange a private event at a restaurant, in which you'd propose to your significant other over pizza. Pizza Hut would provide a limo, flowers, photographers, and the ring—a ruby ring, ruby for marinara sauce. And of course, they provided a meal, the new Pizza Hut Dinner box, which included a medium pizza, five breadsticks, and ten cinnamon sticks. The package cost $10,010.
The promotion was ridiculous—every single person who commented on it pointed out how ridiculous it was. Are there people who might propose at Pizza Hut, either because they're going for a casual proposal or because a night at Pizza Hut is a special occasion for them? Sure. Are there people who'd spend ten grand on a proposal, complete with a limo and fireworks? Absolutely. Is there any overlap between those two groups? None whatsoever (unlike the considerable overlap between the slices of pepperoni on the Pizza Hut Dinner Box, available for just $10).
But why are we talking about this promotion now, an entire decade later? Simple: We were going to talk about the Batman-themed pizza calzone from Little Caesars, but Little Caesars refused to sponsor us.
Seriously though, no, we did not seek any kind of sponsorship with Little Caesars (or Pizza Hut, for that matter). If we did put out an article about the Little Caesars Batman Calzony, however, it would have served as Little Caesars advertising, no matter how hard we insulted the product. Calling the tie-in dumb would have dissuaded no one from buying the calzone, but it would have raised awareness, which might have convinced someone to give it a try.
Same deal with coverage of the Pizza Hut Proposal Package. No, coverage convinced no one to buy the package, but it convinced people to buy the Dinner Box, which was the purpose of the promotion all along. Pizza Hut never seriously cared about selling engagement parties. If they did, they would have sold the package for $9,999 (or some other more attractive price), not $10,010. They picked the $10,010 price because they were plugging the $10 Dinner Box—which, incidentally, never contained enough pizza to satisfy two diners.
When outlets interviewed Pizza Hut about the promotion, the chain claimed they'd received 500 serious inquiries from interested customers. We are confident this was a lie. Today, we can find no record of anyone taking them up on the offer. Though, we can actually find a whole lot of stories about couples proposing at Pizza Hut, just at random.
If people were really calling Pizza Hut asking about their engagement packages, here's what would have happened. Until they got one diner to agree to the deal, Pizza Hut would have told callers, "Listen. We want to make this happen. In fact, we're not even going to charge you for it. But the terms and conditions say we're allowed to use the photos and videos we take in press releases we send out, is that okay with you?" Because ten grand wouldn't be a big cost to bite in exchange for phase II of their campaign for unpaid advertising.
Top image: Joseph Gage