How Pizza Hut Infiltrated the Call of Duty Warzone World

Pizza Hut Australia’s engagement with the gaming community has reached a higher level of engagement with the recent Pizza HuNt activation. As part of the ongoing Hut Games – Pizza Hut, players have the opportunity to order free pizza in Call of Duty Warzone.

“Pizza Hut was already running the ‘Hut Games’ event and was using publishers to engage with gaming audiences. We shared the idea with Pizza Hut and we brought it to life in a matter of days,” says Jake Barrow of Group ECD, Sydney/Melbourne for VMLY&R and VMLY&R Commerce.

The activation also benefited from the launch of a new close chat function in Call of Duty that provides an ideal springboard for players to effectively order pizza on Pizza HuNt.

Gamers form an important target social group for Pizza Hut, and the brand already has an organic relationship with the community, so getting into their world more directly was the next step – but they had to get it right.

LBB’s Esther Lew is researching with Jake to learn how the VMLY&R and VMLY&R Commerce teams are bringing activation to life.

YBB> How does the campaign approach relate to Pizza Hut’s brand positioning and strategy?

Jake > Playing Call of Duty in a like-minded community connects perfectly with this mantra, and Pizza HuNt is a creative business idea that brings the audience and the brand together in positive interaction.

The tone of the activation was hilarious which suits the Call of Duty setting well. In the game world, it’s important to appear as one of them, rather than a stranger trying to shove a message down players’ throats. And for the brand, it’s important that we create the mechanism to translate directly into experience and results.

LBB> What desired results were obtained from this activation? How was the participation? How will this be used to attract more consumers to Pizza Hut?

Jake> The main goal was to continue to connect and build with our gaming audience to build loyalty while creating sales impact. All of the publishers who took on the role of pizza delivery people themselves had a huge online audience, so the success for us was that they saw Pizza HuNt as entertainment, even if they didn’t participate themselves.

Participation was fantastic. People really started hunting down and ordering delivery people. We had 400 pizzas to distribute over the opening weekend, and with the success of Pizza HuNt we are considering relaunching it this year.

LBB> What are the mechanics behind Call of Duty? Can you tell us about the backend production process of Call of Duty?

Jake > No major hacking, coding or backend wizardry. It was knowing a gaming platform well enough to be able to run a great idea within its parameters. For us, the production part was really just logistics. We used our existing game team of four publishers to play the role of the delivery man in-game. The process of reaching the players was quite simple.

First, our streamers were already talking about the promotion on their Twitch and Facebook live streams so that people could find out about it. Then at the start of each game they would also send messages to the lobby to let all players know how to get involved in Pizza HuNt. Then, if they found us in-game and were close enough to use the new chat feature, we would simply ask them to place an order. We would then specially reach out for them to have their pizza.

YBB> What were the creative and technical considerations to navigate?

Jake> Our biggest thought was to make it a smooth and easy experience for gamers. We’re a brand in their field, so we wanted to make sure it was easy. Before the game starts, you only have a limited time to explain the instructions of the challenge, so we needed to be convincing and concise.

LBB> What are the key elements in the game to attract consumers?

Jake> I can’t emphasize enough that brands should approach the gaming world as an intruder. Make sure you add value, make sure people can join and leave, and make sure to show that you’re winning players.

We needed to make sure it was unique and meaningful beyond just an ad placement. You can’t just walk into their world and interrupt them with the same pre-release ad you posted on YouTube. Everything on the Hut Games platform is managed internally by the players, originally for the players.

LBB> How does this activation create more momentum for Pizza Hut to stand out in the food and beverage industry?

Jake > Pizza Hut Australia is Australia’s fastest growing QSR and has been building its team in the playground for some time now. Fast, innovative ideas like this only feed our ambition. I hope you will write more articles on Pizza Hut Australia this year.

YBB> How do you see the potential of gaming for brands and how do you see the development of this trend in the food and beverage industry?

Jake > I think the trend is well and truly evolved. The audience is huge and the potential is endless. The biggest difference in gaming, unlike traditional media, is that it’s always evolving. What you couldn’t do yesterday, you can do today. And what is possible today will be old news next week. That’s the challenge, but that’s the fun too.