4 Reasons Why Pizza Hut’s Nostalgia Marketing Effort Worked
Anniversaries are tough for PR folks. So often, clients get really excited about a company anniversary and want to make it into a larger event. And that’s easy as pie—when your focus is internal. The challenge comes when we start looking for outside media coverage or engagement from customers, because sometimes–sadly–people just don’t care as much as we hope they will.
A few weeks ago, however, my social media feeds lit up with an exception to the rule: “BOOK-IT IS BACK!” the headlines blared. For the uninitiated, Book-It is a Pizza Hut program that rewards/bribes kids with free pizza for their reading efforts. It was the reason for many Pizza Hut visits in my childhood, and apparently it has never really gone away. According to Pizza Hut, roughly 1 in 5 Americans have participated in BOOK IT! over the past three decades.
Now, Pizza Hut is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Book-It with an alumni program. Just visit the site, give them your email address and tell them what your job is today, and you’ll get a coupon for a free personal pan pizza. I was so swept up in nostalgia that I actually almost did it.
We talked it over at K&C, and came up with a few important reasons that the Book-It revival is having more success than many other anniversaries:
1) The power of nostalgia. People who participated in Book-It as kids have strong memories of reading great books and then celebrating over dinner with their families. These elements create HUGE emotional ties–the kind that help people remember brands very fondly. Here are some of the results of Pizza Hut tapping into that nostalgia:
— Nate Magnum (@NateMagnum) October 1, 2014
— The BOOK IT! Program (@bookitprogram) October 2, 2014
— Marty (@DorotheaBooks) October 2, 2014
2) It feeds our egos. “Why, yes! I loved Book-It as a child and today I am a very fancy PR writer!” Asking alumni to list their occupations was a brilliant touch. It prompts us to connect our early love for reading (helped along by Pizza Hut) to our career successes today.
3) There’s a freebie. Paging Captain Obvious. It’s a lot easier to get people to care when there’s a little something in it for them. (Just make sure the product is one that’s actually worth showing off. One Book It alum wrote of her free pizza, “The overwhelming flavor? Grease.”)
4) It’s easy. You don’t have to write an essay to get your free pizza; just take 30 seconds to fill out the form.
These four themes can be helpful to keep in mind the next time you’re hoping to drum up some excitement over an anniversary. Of course, if you’re stumped on how you can apply these elements to your brand, we’re always happy to help. Contact us.
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