BookIt Relaunch Is Good Will For A Company That Needs It

Pizza_Hut_Book_ItI was a kid who always loved to read. So when I was in first or second grade and I realized I could earn pizzas for my love of reading, I was pretty psyched.

Lots of us (ok lots of us nerds) have fond memories of the BookIt program where you’d read books to get personal pan pizzas from Pizza Hut. There were also the buttons, the stickers, and other fun stuff. I remember this being an entirely positive experience.

With this 30 year anniversary of the program, Pizza Hut is looking to get a lot of nostalgic and social media goodwill from its latest campaign.

Here’s why they probably need it:

1) They have been at about 1% growth the last 3 years in the US (they’re doing much better in China). As anecdotal evidence, I was last in a Pizza Hut 12 years  ago and Kassie can’t remember the last time she was in one.

YUM-brand-comparison

Pizza-Chains

The second graph is from Bloomberg Business.

2) Even if you don’t count sales, Pizza Hut doesn’t do well in comparisons between the other popular pizza brands in the US.

I didn’t have to look far to find articles comparing the national brands (Papa Johns, Dominos, Pizza Hut, and Little Caesars) and none were impressed with Pizza Hut’s offerings.

http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/blogs/editor/2014/01/taste-test-pizza-delivery.html

http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2010/02/what-is-the-best-delivery-pepperoni-pizza-dominos-pizza-hut-little-caesars-papa-johns.html 

3) Pizza Hut has had some PR problems over the last couple years.

It’s one thing to have declining sales (paleo and low carb movement, etc.) and a medicre product but it’s another thing to have PR problems added to that. From their 2880 calorie pizza to a worker recently fired for not so sanitary behavior, Pizza Hut hasn’t been in the news in a good way… until now.



Championing reading and supporting teachers is a pretty easy cause to get behind, and relaunching a well loved, widely popular program is one way there.

From their video story (see below) to their new app to their collaborations with authors and celebrities, BookIt is in it to win it.

And no need to be a student or a teacher. BookIt has an alumni program to get regular adults involved (a free personal pan delivery when ordering online- still waiting for the email to tell me how many books I have to read to get it.) But if Pizza Hut gets people like me back through the door to retry their pizza, I’ll be curious to see what the American sales numbers are next year.

They’ve certainly invested in this launch from an app to teacher kits to social media campaigns (#BookItKid). Here’s hoping this next generation of kids in school has some fond memories of reading and pizza… and here’s hoping this gives Pizza Hut the boost it needs.

Nicole Ouellette
Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she's not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

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