Pizza Hut drops the pizza… again

Beg to Differ notices that Pizza Hut – the iconic American sit-down-fast-food restaurant and purveyors of pizza pies around the world – have been tinkering with their brand again. And the result? Sorry guys. This one’s been in the oven way too long. That smell could be your brand equity burning.


(image above from the blog Brand New)

“The Hut” branding – half baked or over-done?

Well here we are one short year after the silly and risky-to-brand-trust-levels publicity stunt pretending to rebrand in the UK under the name “Pasta Hut”, ( mixed reaction here from Brand Republic TheHut_200x267Magazine) then revealing that was just a way of drawing attention to their non-pizza offerings (tee hee). But it seems the Hut-people are at it again, in the USA this time. And what do you know? They found another way to drop the pizza (in all senses of the term).

Their glorious Big Idea:

On their new chain-wide pizza boxes and on a growing number of stores, Pizza Hut is introducing an alternate logo and name: “The Hut”, which for the moment is intended to co-exist with the Pizza Hut brand.

The rationale? Here’s what “the Hut” has to say:

And yes, we’re also introducing another vocabulary word with Pizza Hut, which is’The Hut.’ That ties in nicely with (today’s) texting generation. We wanted to make sure that Pizza Hut and ‘The Hut’ become common vernacular for our brand. Pizza Hut CMO Brian Niccol in BrandWeek

Ah, got it. Trying to create “common vernacular” – a term which incidentally, is also a big hit with “today’s texting generation.”

Now I’m not sure what Jabba & co. make of this – or if the idea actually came from the SpaceBalls character “Pizza the Hut“, but I’m thinking it’s a really bad idea. It’s one thing to try to introduce a new nick-name (and this one isn’t totally implausible). But it’s quite another to spring the nickname on people in such a way that you create brand confusion and cause people to question your commitment to core product.

And I’m not alone:

It’s a mystery to me why just a year after the whole Pasta Hut rebrand the company would now start a whole new renaming mission by introducing The Hut. Having spent 12 months being either Pizza Hut or Pasta Hut, the business seems to be testing out a third name. Wed, 17 Jun 2009 | By Ruth Mortimer | Marketing Week UK

My take: My recommendation would be to start slow and go organic. Use “The Hut” in a tagline. As in: “Pizza Hut – Get Pizza and More at the Hut”. Then IF IT STICKS start using it more and more until eventually you can claim a name change about by popular demand.

More reaction (from abroad):

Jabba Reacts - med2

Thanks to Brand New for the tip-off and design blog idsgn for analysis and the before / after image above.

Am I being too harsh? Comment away!