In his book, “Then We Set His Hair on Fire,” copywriter and former chief creative officer of BBDO North America Phil Dusenberry revealed how powerful insights propelled his successful career in advertising. He told the story of how one insight helped his team land a $50 million-plus Pizza Hut account.
If You’re Going to Sell Pizza, You Need to Know Pizza
In 1987, coming off successful campaigns for Pepsi, Dupont, Gillette, Apple and FedEx, Dusenberry was given the opportunity to pitch the Pizza Hut account.
Dusenberry and his team hunkered into their offices and developed the pitch. When they presented it to executives, it flopped. The executives pointed out that Dusenberry and his team knew nothing about pizza or the company.
Pizza Hut: Makin’ It Great
Pizza Hut gave Dusenberry one more chance, and he decided on a new strategy. He and his staff would undertake a crash course in pizza. They had 10 days to “get smart about the industry and Pizza Hut.”
Dusenberry dispatched almost his entire staff to Pizza Hut locations across the U.S. They spoke with Pizza Hut employees at every level, in every department. BBDO staff found themselves elbow deep in pizza dough, working side by side with staff and serving customers.
From this came their crucial insight: they needed to sell the “pizza experience,” not just pizza. Dusenberry and his team realized that the communal nature of pizza differentiated Pizza Hut from its main competitors (burger and taco outlets). By nature of being shared from a common pan, pizza has a celebratory element, and that became its competitive advantage.
Dusenberry and his team developed the tag line “Makin’ It Great” and created commercials showcasing the pizza experience. The copywriter won the account and successfully managed it for many years.
Makin’ Your Marketing Great
1987 may seem ages ago in the marketing world, but lessons learned by Dusenberry and his team still hold today. It can be difficult to gain insight if you don’t know much about the product. Sometimes you need to put your hands in the dough and get some sauce on your sleeves.