Pizza Hut’s Prez Has Big Plans

Dec 24, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Peter Hearl, president of Pizza Hut, wants Americans to know he doesn’t have
a speech impediment. He’s from Australia.

A story in the Dallas Morning News, said Mr. Hearl, Aussie accent and
humor included, plans to shake things up at the pizza chain after spending a
year listening to customers and Pizza Hut staff.

“Since about May of this year,” he said, “we’ve been focusing very firmly on
positioning our brand against the family sector. We’ve developed an advertising
campaign with the tag line ‘Gather round the good stuff,’ using Queen Latifah
as our spokesperson.”

“The other thing we’ve been doing is building a pipeline of the product and
the promotional news that is going to be relevant for those family pizza-eating
occasions. We spent a good part of the year testing products which you’ll see
come on to our calendar next year.”

Pizza Hut has looked for new products to drive continued growth. As with other
fast food operators, the chain has had to deal with increased scrutiny over
the nutrition value of its products.

The company rolled out its Fit ‘N Delicious pizza to address concerns about
the obesity problem in the U.S.

“With the vegetables we have, the lean meats that we’ve got, the Fit ‘N Delicious
product with less cheese and more sauce, we’ve got something that’s going to
meet most people’s needs. On top of that, we’ve recently announced our plans
to form a relationship with the Fresh Express salad people. So through the course
of the first quarter of next year, we’ll be rolling out the Fresh Express bagged
lettuce products into our stores.”

Pizza Hut is planning on making a big impact heading into the Super Bowl weekend
next month.

“Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest Sunday of the year for the pizza business.
We’ll have some big news, and we’ll be — probably like our competitors — launching
some new advertising.”

Moderator’s Comment: Are the dietetic trends in the
U.S. working against Pizza Hut’s growth? If yes, how should the chain address
this issue?

The reporter for the Dallas Morning News who interviewed
Mr. Hearl asked if Pizza Hut had plans to introduce a low-carb pizza.

He responded, “That’s an interesting thought. While we
haven’t developed that product yet, we’re certainly exploring that territory.
You could, in fact, probably develop a crustless pizza. The technology is changing
dramatically that will enable, I think, dough and bread manufacturers to reduce
the carbs in their products to fit into one of these low-carb diets that are
out there.”
Anderson – Moderator

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