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Two marketing strategies: Sainsburys and Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut has been sponsoring The Simpsons (when it appears on Channel 4, at least) for years, but just recently they've changed their strategy. A few years ago the sponsor's notice was something composed by an advertising executive on autopilot: a laugh-track, a picture of a pizza, and a reassuring voice telling us who it was who sponsored The Simpsons.

They must have read up on marketing psychology in the mean time, because the new branding is a crafty little trick of turning the sponsor's notice into a pseudo-game that consists of a random selection from a set of silly voices responding to the question, "Who's called the Hut?". The unpredictability of the responses makes it quite a lot like the in-joke in the Simpsons opening credits (when something different happens to the sofa every time the credits roll), and the daft voices used are designed to be imitated and for viewers to have fun with. When people make something their own - through imitation etc - that's when it really sinks in.

Sainsbury's have a new marketing strategy too. Their old tag line was "Making life taste better", which seems fairly bland on its own but then of course that's the point: since Sainsbury's sells such a wide variety of products to such a large group of people, the tag line had to be empty yet reassuring.

The new line is "Try something new today". The reason? They've been thoroughly analysing the data they extract from your Nectar cards, and realised that supermarket shoppers tend to buy the same limited range of items, week in, week out. Personally, that's what I want from a supermarket, but of course those who want to increase the company's market share naturally want you to buy more. So their new campaign involves (quite patronisingly, in my view) putting large signs in shops, and adverts on TV, telling you not to be so boring and to consider putting extra herbs and spices on your vegetables/chicken.

So far, so good, but there are two things wrong with this scheme. First, I've shopped in Sainsbury's recently and the instructions (which are pretty much everywhere once you're in the shop) are too distracting. I stand at the end of the tea and coffee isle thinking, "Teabags, we need some more teabags," but I'm interrupted by a sign declaring "Put some marshmallows in your cocoa," and the next thing I know I've forgotten what I was after in the first place. Supermarket shopping is a regular, automatic process, which people do in a mild trance (very similar to when driving a car), and interrupting the trance will make you forget what you were doing and feel less comfortable in the shop. It's the same kind of thing as the bottom-brush effect.

Second, a proportion of people will certainly be willing to try something new, but not indefinitely. They'll be happy to buy some nutmeg and try grating it over their bolognese, but very few of them will turn this into a ritual and carry on doing it every time they make some spag bol. And once they've tried a handful of the suggestions being blared out, they will start to fatigue and most people will in the end not respond to the suggestions at all.

So, the testable hypothesis that comes from all this is easy to make. The "Who's called the Hut?" campaign will outlive the "Try something new today" campaign. I'm looking forward to seeing if I'm right or not.

Sunday 25th September 2005 | media | Permalink
Name: d.tubro
Date: Sunday 25th September 2005 13:38
In my house the cheesy songs always stick better than catchphrases
the "spam up for a special treat" song became very popular about this time last year
now it has become an occaisonal euphemism for skinning up
would never dream of buying spam though :)
Name: Russell
Date: Tuesday 27th September 2005 12:26
Surely Pizza Hut would be better advised to make sure that when you phone in an order they actually get a) your order and b) the address correct before having a marketing campaign based on the slogan "Who's called the Hut?". The sight of the little motorcyle rider driving around a board with no apparent clue of where to go is unfortunately rather too realistic and reminds me of why I don't bother getting a take away pizza from Pizza Hut
Name: Sam
Website: http://www.samscam.co.uk
Date: Monday 3rd October 2005 18:21
Tesco's online shopping lets you re-run your previous month's shopping in about 3 clicks. Item for item, zero effort. I'm not going to try anything new today. Their psychological trick is to change the packaging every 5 minutes (toilet rolls, mince, tea, you name it) to make you think you are getting something new when it is in fact the same old dross.
Name: Sally Holt
Email: sallyholt art supanet dort com
Date: Wednesday 5th October 2005 13:25
Sainsburys is far more creative than Tesco - I regularly try various supermarkets but always find JS the best overall for choice and good special deals - just look at the end of the bill to see how much you have saved by buying toilet paperin bulk etc. I know not everyone has space to store such things but if you have it saves a lot. I like their constant efforts to change things - my local store now has a pharmacy and a great range of services from getting drycleaning, keys cut, passport pictures etc all in a retail park rather than have to drive to half a dozen different places. I am however totally underwhelmes with their range of clothes - very boring but the costumer jewellery has the odd good surprise.

I like their glossy wipe clean recipe sheets too and if you look out for the manager's special offers you can get bargains - this summer got a lot off chart CDs for example.

I am a fan as you can see even though I used to think Waitrose was best for quality now they have opened a large store locally I am not impressed I think they do beter in their small stores.

Name: Anon...
Email: meeee
Date: Wednesday 19th October 2005 21:36
i love the pizza hut advert. me and my friend got everyone at school messing with the voices (fav being err claude) it doesnt make us wanna buy pizza though
Name: Joe
Email: tyrefire2001 art yahoo dort co dort uk
Date: Monday 31st October 2005 15:20
The Pizza hut advert is, without doubt or exception, the most pointless piece of dross ever spewed out by a marketing company, everyone I've ever watched the simpsons with has expressed nothing but spiteful comtempt for it, and, to be perfectly honest, I think it's stopping people from calling pizza hut.

oh yeah, and their pizza tastes like ass as well.

Name: Rebecca Tyler
Website: http://pizza hyt
Email: Rebecca71 art yahoo dort com
Date: Monday 31st October 2005 15:28
the pizza hut advert shown after simpsons is ridicuously out of line the slogan "who's called the hut" is a complete waste of time and in no way relates to the whole idea of being persuaded to eat pizza and after hearing that constant jingle "who's called the hut i now know exactly why i go to domino's.
Name: poppy driver
Email: popoyknows art yahoo dort com
Date: Monday 31st October 2005 15:34
this website is a joke and a wasste of time i suggest u move over and let someone else take this spot
Name: alex
Email: achitty art babelmedia dort com
Date: Thursday 3rd November 2005 18:16
I find that campaign extremely annoying and irrelevant, it is so disjointed and chaotic, it offends me
Name: ray harrison
Date: Thursday 3rd November 2005 18:41
yes finaly. i am so fustrated at that damn pizza hut advert i went to google and looked it up to see if any one else hated it. i am glad to see other people think it is total crap to. i think i picture of a nice pizza with lots cheese would make me think hmm i wana eat a pizza i think "who called the hut" pisses me off and dusnt do anyhting to my apetite!
Name: leah
Email: 92lb025 art wednesfield dort biblio dort net
Date: Friday 9th December 2005 14:12
i work 4 pizza hut n yep...i gota agree....the advert is pointless! its anoying and doesnt work! every1 i work with has the same idea n we are all glad its finaly off our screens, so that when we sit down to watch the simpsons, its enjoyable.
Name: anon
Date: Wednesday 21st June 2006 18:23
Sainsbury's not only sack people for activities they carry out in the privacy of their home, they actually harrass them for the fee to investigate. two people are now being sued for just under £10000 by Sainsburys, both unemployed. Bully boys or what?
Name: holly
Email: hozboz art hotmail dort co dort uk
Date: Thursday 3rd May 2007 12:44
personally i tink sainsburys is a brillant store. i will b honest i do work der. it way beta den tesco, scappy uniform lol!
Name: sahdia rasool
Email: sahdia_rasool art hotmail dort com
Date: Monday 29th October 2007 18:49
I think Sainsburys is much better than tescos and asda. i love it.Am doing my dissertaion on it. could some help me out abit please. the title is assessing the marketingstategy of J'Sainsburys limited. i would appreciate if some one could help me out. where can i get literature reviews on this topic.
Name: Leanne
Email: pizza hut
Date: Saturday 3rd November 2007 22:20
Does anybody know who the voice over is on the new pizza hut advert

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