“The fact that we go to such lengths to deliver pizza should really make you pissed off that the nearest location to you doesn’t do delivery.”
~Pizza Hut Marketing Execs
Pizza Hut is that pizza chain that you really like, think is really overrated, or have never gotten because half of their locations don’t do delivery and actually sitting down inside a Pizza Hut to eat their pizza kind of feels like giving up on life. We’ve talked about it in these hallowed halls, usually in reference to the weird shit they do overseas (or, frankly, within our borders).
But no matter your opinion on how they do pizza, one thing we can all agree on is that they do marketing with…let’s say, a lot of spunk. They work hard to peddle their stuffed crusts and cheesy breads and…wings, we guess. Who actually orders wings from Pizza Hut? We digress. The point being, Pizza Hut loves their publicity stunts. Especially when it comes to finding wacky, crazy ways to delivery you pizza, Pizza Hut is in a class of their own. We’re not sure if that’s a good thing.
Pizza Hut’s 7 Most Insane Delivery Stunts Ever
Pizza Hut was opened in Wichita, Kansas in 1958 by two college students who eventually sold it to PepsiCo in 1977, who in turn sold it to Yum! Brans in 1997 (by the “it gets sold every 20 years” pattern, expect it to be sold again this year, apparently). There are 15,000 worldwide locations, with 7,500 of those operating in the United States. While we don’t have hard numbers on this, we do know that not every location offers delivery (in the 1990’s only half of them did). We also know that they are incredibly into marketing gimmicks. Sometimes, they crash and burn, like the attempt to ask Obama and Romney a pizza toppings question during the Presidential Debate in 2012. Others…well, they at least go off without a hitch. Even if they’re pretty nuts. Here are some of their “successes.”
Pizza Hut Delivers to Dominos
Okay, so this stunt is actually hilarious. It’s also the oldest one on this list. Back in 1991, Pizza Hut decided that the best way to use their competition with Domino’s was to play off it for some creative marketing. So, they decided to go through the phone book or however the hell people did stuff before the internet was everywhere and round up everyone with the last name “Domino” to give them a free Pizza Hut pizza. “We know that if we can convince people named ‘Domino’ to make a switch for the best, we’d have an excellent chance with the rest of America,” was the official statement made by Marcia Thomsen, Pizza Hut’s director of delivery marketing, which is a job title that apparently exists.
So to recap, if you had the same last name as their biggest competitor, you got a free pizza. Now, Domino’s responded in time, offering a free large pizza to anyone named Domino who was unsatisfied with their Pizza Hut, which basically means that all the Dominos in America got two free pizzas because wouldn’t you call in a fake complaint to get a free pizza if you were in this situation? Don’t even try to deny it, the only thing better than pizza is free pizza, and the only thing better than that is two free pizzas. That’s just science.
The Blockbuster Box
Since 1991, Pizza Hut has upped their game a little bit. Instead of trolling the competition, they’re making outlandish deliveries or actually inventing new types of packaging that can, oh, turn your pizza box into a movie projector. Which is what Pizza Hut in Hong Kong decided to do in 2015. By following a few simple instructions, and putting your smartphone in the right spot, you could have whatever is playing on your phone (shittily) projected (with muffled sound) onto your wall. It’s one of those things that makes for a really cool commercial, but would have no real practical value in a world where Chromecast exists. Still, have to give Pizza Hut credit where credits due—they managed to invent an interesting way to make your pizza box slightly less useless before you throw it away.
Order Your Pizza With a Temporary Tattoo
Yes, Pizza Hut once made it so you could order pizza using a pizza emoji, but we’re not going to talk about that because we think it’s fucking stupid. Admittedly, having Pizza Hut UK create 40 temporary tattoos that will send your favorite Pizza Hut pizza to your home when you tap your smartphone to it is also fucking stupid, but it at least involves some futuristic sounding technology (like “wires” and “circuits” and, uh, “smart” and “phone) that lets us think we’re one step closer to the future.
Delivering a Pizza to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro
If you’re looking for a publicity stunt, setting a Guinness World Record is a solid way to go, since for whatever reason people love Guinness World Records no matter how pointless or dumb they are. In fact, they probably like the record more as it gets dumber and more pointless. So last year, marketers for Pizza Hut got together, took a bunch of Adderall and cough syrup, and woke up three days later naked and sticky with the words “highest elevation pizza delivery record” written on the wall in blood. But whose blood? After paying off the family of the building’s night janitor, they decided to make their fever dream a reality, and on May 8th they successfully delivered a pizza to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
If this sounds like something comically impractical and difficult, it was. They couldn’t fly the pizza up there due to the high altitude, so they had a pizza made at their location in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and flew it to the trailhead of Mount Kilimanjaro (it’s about a one hour flight, or 350 miles away). Then they…just climbed the fucking mountain. For three days. So that picture up there? That is pizza that has been just, out for three days. We’re hoping no one actually ate the damn thing once they reached the summit, but we know they did, because if you spent all that time hiking a pizza up 19,000 feet as a publicity stunt, you’re going to eat at least a motherfucking slice.
Delivery to Passengers on a Moving Train
Pizza Hut UK went viral in 2013 when an employee in charge of the “get our food onto moving transport” team (which apparently was a job title?) posted on Reddit with a request that Pizza Hut delivery her a pizza during her 4 hour train ride. This was clearly a manufactured stunt, as she only admitted to being an employee of Pizza Hut after the whole thing blew up, but still, Pizza Hut sent a delivery guy to the Newport Station in South Wales where he went on the train, dropped off the pizza, and hopped back off. On one hand, that’s great for the person who wants the pizza during a long train ride, but let’s be honest, everyone else on that train must have been pissed. The only thing worse than no pizza is no pizza when an entire train smells like pizza that some damn corporate employee got delivered to her as a publicity stunt. We’re amazed no one set the damn car on fire.
Pizza Delivery With a Christmas Carol Flash Mob
In 2015, Pizza Hut made the risky decision to try to capitalize off a little known holiday known as “Christmas.” Shockingly, the holiday proved to be a smash, which helped justify Pizza Hut’s decision to go a bit…over the top with their Christmas cheer in an attempt to sell their Triple Treat Box, a $20 box with two medium pizzas, an order of breadsticks, and a big ass chocolate chip cookie. Now, you might be wondering what exactly qualifies as “over the top” for a website whose banner is a bear holding a shotgun in front of an American flag, and that’s fair. So we’ll just describe it and let you come to your own conclusion.
So any resident ordering a Triple Treat Box in Orem, Utah opened their door to see their pizza delivery women singing Silent Night in operatic vibrato, at which point a group of people with bells came out to accompany her. Then, even more carolers come out to sing Deck the Halls while the customers looked on with an expression Adweek described as “delighted” and which we would describe as “wondering when the fuck they’re getting their damn pizza.” Then a horse-drawn cart is brought out with a horns section as dozens of more people, including some in church choir robes, rush out. After that song, a truck with a few dozen singers standing in the back rolls up to sing We Wish You a Merry Christmas, which finally ends with a car pulling a fucking stage with a rock band comes out to finish the song. By the final notes a bunch of pyrotechnics are going off and there are about 80 people on these families’ front lawns who then finally get their pizza.
They don’t picture the awkward moment where the family goes, “Um…thanks? Bye?” as they sign their release allowing Pizza Hut to use that footage and slowly close the door to eat the dinner that got cold as a whole fucking production was taking place. But, um, yay Christmas?
Pizza Hut Delivers Pizza to Space
One of the least hot takes we can muster is “Space is awesome,” but there you have it, space is awesome. In 2001, Pizza Hut came to that very same conclusion, since they decided to spend a million dollars to deliver a pizza to a goddamn astronaut on the International Space Station. Which, admittedly, is kind of awesome. They had to go with salami instead of pepperoni, as pepperoni grew mold during the required 60-day “is this rotten yet” test (eww, pepperoni, what the fuck), and extra salt and seasoning was added to the sauce to combat the fact that space apparently makes your food taste bland as hell. But it successfully was sent up, and actually eaten by a cosmonaut.
Oh yeah, you read that right—Pizza Hut actually paid Russia to send that pizza up, and the only person to eat it was Russian cosmonaut Yuri Usachov. If you’re wondering, yes, there were American astronauts on board when this trip was made, but they were forbidden to eat any of the pizza since NASA has strict rules against our astronauts helping a company advertise. Damn party poopers.