Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Here comes the Pizza Hut and Cheez-It mashup no one asked for | Advertising Age

Pizza Hut and Cheez-It are collaborating on an item clearly made for the Instagram accounts of hungry college students.

The brands have cooked up Stuffed Cheez-It pizza, a limited-time product that appears to resemble an oversized stuffed Cheez-It cracker or perhaps some cheese-dusted toasted ravioli. Each piece is larger than a Cheez-It cracker but is meant to look like one, down to that hole in the center of the square.

Restaurant chains and packaged food marketers are eager to find new ways to get diners to buy their products. Yum Brands’ Pizza Hut and Kellogg Co.’s Cheez-It have each worked on unique products in the past, from Pizza Hut’s stuffed crust pizza to Cheez-It varieties including Grooves and Duoz.

As the brands suggest, this is what happens when two “household legends” join forces. Linking up with other well-known brands can be a smart way to drive interest and awareness. Yum Brands has done so before, perhaps most notably with the success of products such as the Doritos Locos taco at Taco Bell and, more recently, the Cheetos chicken sandwich at KFC. 

As far as Stuffed Cheez-It pizza goes, the target audience was pretty clear. The brands realized Cheez-It is a popular snack among college students, who also happen to order plenty of Pizza Hut pizza. “Armed with that insight, the Pizza Hut culinary dream team worked with Cheez-It to create a product that ties the best of both pizza and Cheez-It worlds into one new innovation that’s delivering exactly what customers want,” the companies said in a statement.

Whether it’s what college students or others really want remains to be seen. Each piece is stuffed with cheese or pepperoni and cheese. And since this is meant to be a bit like pizza, there’s marinara dipping sauce on the side.

The product—which Ad Age has not yet tasted—sells for $6.49 for four pieces. Starting Sept. 24, the price will be $6 when it is added to Pizza Hut’s “$5 N’ Up” lineup and purchased in combination with two or more items on that part of the menu. At either price it’s likely in the budgets of many a college football fan, even when tipping the delivery driver. 

What does any of this have to do with college football? Pizza Hut and Cheez-It have something in common besides cheese. And that’s college football marketing. Pizza Hut is the official pizza of the NCAA (and the official pizza of the NFL). Cheez-It is an official sponsor of the College Football Playoff.

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