Some like it hot
In today’s tough commercial environment marketers have become highly risk averse – some say too risk averse - and bend over backwards to try to cater to every whim of their customers. Hence a campaign like Pizza Roulette is a genuinely daring thing to attempt. The very thought of running a promotion that promises to inflict severe pain and suffering on your loyal target audience instead of pleasure would normally be enough to ensure it never sees the light of day.
Not so at Hell. They understand that their product, at its best, is part of a fundamentally social and shared experience. But extensive research had revealed that while the Hell brand was extremely strong and highly differentiated against its bland competition, there was a big catch. “The brand perceptions are unusually clear and consistent…” researchers found, “but there is a lack of product connection…”
As it happened, the Hell Pizza guys had recently come back from an overseas trip with a bottle of the world’s hottest chilli sauce. One drop is enough to have a nuclear effect.
While a whole nuclear pizza would be too much, what if the sauce was put on just one slice? Then came the twist: what if you didn’t know which one it was? Every box would become a kind of Russian Roulette, delivered to your door. More than a product, in the social environment of pizza consumption each delivery would be an experience in itself, full of tension, surprise, and evil hilarity. What could be more Hellish than that? Add a highly innovative, ground-up social and digital strategy, and a national sales smash and global news story was born.
The marketing strategy reversed the usual top-down QSR marketing formula, with EDM and Social media at the root rather than as an afterthought. Which is why, with minimal expenditure, Pizza Roulette spread like wildfire not only nationwide but around the world, earning media from the likes of CNN and Time.com, adding hundreds of thousands of dollars of PR, and making millions for the pizza boys from Wellington.