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The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar became a battleground for international QSR brands, each seeking to weave their identity into the tournament experience in an effort to reach and engage global audiences tuning in. This presented a new challenge for brands such as Pizza Hut, with traditional media channels becoming a fierce battleground for competitors, each skirmishing for a share of voice amongst consumer audiences.
With the tournament coinciding with Pizza Hut’s annual ‘Cheesy Poppers’ pizza promotion, the Malaysian subsidiary sought to cut through the noise, delivering a dynamic ‘always on’ campaign that would extend the brand’s reach beyond the matchday window into new mediums.
Working in partnership with Dentsu Creative, Carat Media and TotallyAwesome, Pizza Hut Malaysia identified an opportunity to engage gaming audiences, with an estimated 1.2 million people actively playing mobile football titles in the region. The campaign sought to deliver a unique experience for audiences, aligning gameplay with real-time action unfolding on the pitch, with in-game pitchside placements showcasing athlete-themed promotional codes that coincided with live goals and match outcomes.
Utilising Bidstack’s exclusive gaming partnerships and inventory from other partners, Pizza Hut were able to deliver geo-targeted ads across fan-favourite titles such as Football Manager, FIFA Mobile, Soccer Cup, and Top Eleven. The placements were rendered in contextually relevant virtual spaces, enhancing the gameplay experience whilst simultaneously generating significant levels of brand awareness, recall and consideration.
With the launch of ‘Cheese Codes’, Pizza Hut Malaysia set out to reinvent the way QSR brands engage audiences throughout international sporting events, seizing the moment to deliver a branded experience that would captivate audience interest and enhance long-term brand sentiment.
The campaign sought to utilise gaming as a highly cost-effective medium to engage often hard-to-reach audiences, generating excitement around the brand that would extend into conversations across both social and traditional media platforms, establishing awareness and driving sales.
“The World Cup is a prime period for any brand, and we understand the costs of battling competitors for a greater share of the voice”, explained Kunal Roy, CEO of Dentsu Creative Malaysia. “Our commitment to modern creativity compelled us to play a different game compared to our competitors. Football thrives in the real-time, and our fan engagement campaign aimed to infiltrate real-time conversations for real-life conversions,” added Andrew Low, Group CCO at Denstu Creative Malaysia.
The increasing accessibility of smartphone devices globally continues to drive a surge in gaming participation, with 90% of audiences in Malaysia using mobile devices to engage with games and related content. With 42% of this growing audience expressing an interest in sporting titles, Pizza Hut identified this as an opportunity to communicate directly with audiences in an environment where they actively choose to spend their time.
The campaign saw a unique ‘Cheese Code’ delivered into football gaming environments in response to real-time goals in the broadcasted tournament, presenting audiences with discounts that could be applied to limited edition pizza combinations. Each product mashup was simultaneously renamed with inspiration from icons of the tournament, including examples such as Mbapperoni, Crispiano, Mezzirella, Neymarina and Modrichilli.
The humourous in-game creatives were designed to remain authentic to the traditional matchday experience, delivering branded messages on animated pitch-side billboards within gameplay. Through remaining non-intrusive, the strategy set out to complement the brand’s perception and favorability amongst gaming audiences, providing a fun yet effective approach to engagement at scale.
Pizza Hut utilised Bidstack’s sophisticated in-game advertising technology to deliver the creatives into fan-favourite franchises, ensuring that the brand’s messaging was delivered into premium and brand-safe environments that complemented the campaign’s wider objectives. The in-game placements were supported with clickable rewarded video formats, incentivising audiences to further engage with the content to obtain valuable in-game prizes.
With 35% of Malaysian consumers ordering food via mobile apps, the ease of clicking in-game to redeem special offers provided users with a gamified approach to ordering food. The wide range of themed promotional codes ensured that the campaign remained both relevant and engaging as the World Cup tournament progressed. “This allowed us to stay current, breaking through the media chaos with increased attention and engagement”, added Sid Nair, Creative Director at Dentsu Creative Malaysia.
The campaign was supported by real-time insights from Bidstack’s AdConsole platform, enabling the brand to track and report on each creative’s performance across a range of relevant data points. Pizza Hut was able to measure the direct return on investment of the overall campaign, analysing increases in website traffic, audience reach and sales generated from the gaming placements.
Pizza Hut Malaysia delivered a winning play during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 tournament, unlocking unrivalled audience attention that accelerated sales, boosted brand sentiment and transformed the brand’s approach to future media campaigns. In-game advertising enabled a highly cost-effective approach to engaging Malaysian fans at scale throughout the tournament, providing a continued presence at a fraction of the estimated $7 billion spent on traditional competition-aligned sponsorship opportunities.
Key highlights of the campaign include:
Chief Marketing Officer at Pizza Hut Malaysia