Pizza Hut and PAC-MAN deliver slice of nostalgia with AR twist

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This is an interesting and potentially powerful use of augmented reality to enhance a marketing campaign, drawing attention to a brand likely hit hard by restaurant closures and so unable to communicate directly with its customers

Quick read

➨ Pizza Hut is running the ‘Newstalgia’ campaign ahead of an anticipated return of customers to its more than 15,000 locations worldwide
➨ To participate, Pizza Hut customers need to order a large pizza from their local restaurant, scan the QR code on the limited-edition PAC-MAN box and play the augmented reality PAC-MAN game
➨ Pizza Hut is also offering participants the opportunity to win a custom Arcade1Up PAC-MAN game cabinet

The story

Pizza Hut has turned to augmented reality to power a new marketing campaign aimed at reminding customers what it’s like to visit one of its restaurants.

With the Covid-19 pandemic ongoing and lockdowns making in-person dining unfeasible for many people, Pizza Hut is running the ‘Newstalgia’ campaign ahead of an anticipated return of customers to its more than 15,000 locations worldwide.

The use of augmented reality is Pizza Hut’s contemporary twist on pizza restaurants of old, which combined dining with arcades to attract younger customers. This mixture of restaurant and arcade spawned the first generation of modern gamers and was a persistent theme in Ernest Cline’s 1980s nostalgia trips, Ready Player One and Two.

It’s unlikely a coincidence that Pizza Hut has teamed up with PAC-MAN to offer a limited-edition PAC-MAN box, featuring an augmented reality version of the iconic game printed directly on the packaging that fans can play using their smartphones, to launch the ‘Newstalgia’ campaign.

Pizza Hut and PAC-MAN deliver slice of nostalgia with AR twist
The AR PAC-MAN game

To participate, customers need to order a large pizza from their local restaurant, scan the QR code on the limited-edition PAC-MAN box and play the augmented reality PAC-MAN game.

Pizza Hut is also offering participants the opportunity to win a custom Arcade1Up PAC-MAN game cabinet. By following on-screen prompts, they can share their scores with @PizzaHut on Twitter using #PizzaHutARcade #Sweepstakes.

It’s an interesting and potentially powerful use of augmented reality to enhance a marketing campaign, drawing attention to a brand likely hit hard by restaurant closures and so unable to communicate directly with its customers.

For PAC-MAN, this nostalgia trip is very much about pairing two iconic brands of the 1980s and leveraging one another’s role in a memorable childhood experience, using augmented reality to deliver the immersion missing during lockdown.

‘A special place in many people’s memories’

Yutaka Fuse, head of licensing and branding at Bandai Namco Entertainment, says: “PAC-MAN’s design and creation was inspired by the shape of a pizza with a slice taken out of it, making this partnership so appropriate for the PAC-MAN brand.”

“PAC-MAN games and Pizza Hut pizzas occupy a special place in many people’s memories; we’re excited to have the opportunity to create fun memories for a new generation of PAC-MAN and Pizza Hut fans through this collaboration.”

Pizza Hut also teamed up with new spokesperson Craig Robinson for a TV spot featuring the actor and comedian playing a retro PAC-MAN game while enjoying a $10 Tastemaker pizza.

Robinson says: “Everyone has their own special Pizza Hut memory—from being a BOOK IT! kid or grabbing post-game pizza with your little league buddies.”

“Growing up in the 80s, mine was going into Pizza Hut and devouring those little PAC-MAN dots just like I did my pizza. Those arcade games in the restaurant—there was nothing better as a kid.”

George Felix, chief marketing officer at Pizza Hut adds: “There aren’t many brands with more iconic elements than us, whether it’s the red cups, checkered tablecloths, connection to pop culture and entertainment—like PAC-MAN—or our iconic Pan Pizza.”

“As we look to connect with a new generation of pizza lovers, we are tapping into those things that make Pizza Hut great in a modern and relevant way.”

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Image: Pizza Hut

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