Pizza Hut Continues 'Newstalgia' With Mini Basketballs and Pizza Box Hoops
With the return of the NCAA Tournament, Pizza Hut is also bringing back a beloved promotional item that fans haven't seen since the 1990s: mini basketball and special pizza boxes that transform into a basketball hoop.
Starting this week as the tournament kicks off, Pizza Hut restaurants nationwide will be selling the black and red mini basketballs with the retro Pizza Hut font, and the "No One OutPizzas the Hut" slogan.
Pizza Hut has been playing the nostalgia game for a few years now. To be precise, it introduced the idea of "Newstalgia" by bringing back promotional branding campaigns and aesthetics from the past, but with updated and modern sensibilities.
Last year it brought back the "Book It!" program, which rewards students for reading books. As part of the campaign, Pizza Hut included a retro T-shirt with the original "Book It!" logo.
The year before that, Pizza Hut brought back a pizza box printed to look like a game of Pac-Man, as well as a full line of apparel and accessories modeled after the red design elements of its original restaurants. Items like red plastic drinking glasses referenced the original fountain drink cups that so many Gen X-ers and millennials grew up with.
So, bringing back a program in conjunction with the NCAA Tournament is a logical next step as part of this "Newstalgia" initiative, giving us all a healthy dose of nostalgia while still staying tied to current events.
"We're back again for the seventh year as the official pizza of March Madness, and we wanted to do something special for pizza-loving basketball fans," Lindsay Morgan, chief marketing officer for Pizza Hut, said in a press release. "That's why we're bring back a fan-favorite item, our Mini Basketballs, to pair perfectly with pizza orders during the tournament, and unveiling interactive hoop pizza box packaging for customers to get into the basketball action at home."
Last year, I was asked by my pals at @GSDM to create a new mini-basketball for @pizzahut to help celebrate @MarchMadnessMBB . For the first time since the 90s, they were bringing back the tradition of creating mini balls for the Big Dance. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/To8zQuXf9l
— A. Micah Smith (@amicahsmith) March 17, 2023
As a tie-in with the tournament broadcasts, CBS Sports and Warner Bros. Discovery Sports on-air talent will compete in a bracket-style tournament with the branded mini balls.
This promotion is such a good example of using both hardgoods and printed products together to create a well-rounded promotional campaign. It's even better that the two products work directly together, like including a writing instrument and notepad.
The campaign even includes the idea of experiential marketing, with Pizza Hut taking over a Culture Kings store in the Caesars Palace Forum Shops on March 18 for pizza-themed photo moments, basketball-themed games and, of course, the opportunity to buy the mini balls.