Dec. 6, 2012 at 8:18 AM ET
At last, a perfume option for those who want nothing more than to be surrounded by the heavenly aroma of fresh pizza.
In what promises to be a viral marketing bonanza and the inspiration for late-night comedians everywhere, Pizza Hut Canada has produced a limited-edition of “Eau de Pizza Hut.” The fragrance boasts “top notes of freshly baked, hand-tossed dough,” the company said in a news release.
“It’s amazing how such a simple idea can intrigue people,” said Beverley D'Cruz, marketing and product development director of Pizza Hut Canada, adding that she has heard from contacts all over the world curious about the perfume.
“People have fun eating pizza, so we had some fun doing this.”
The project began several months ago when Pizza Hut Canada asked fans on its Facebook page whether they loved the smell of a box of pizza being opened and what it might be called if it were perfume.
There were dozens of cheesy suggestions, including “Eau de Pepperoni,” “Devour by Pizza Hut,” and “Pizzaz.” The post has received more than 270 comments in all.
It was the highest user engagement the company has ever seen, so it began brainstorming what to do next.
“Somebody said, ‘What if we actually made a perfume?’ So we said, let’s try it,” D'Cruz recalled.
Pizza Hut Canada then tasked a perfume maker to create a fragrance that smelled like freshly baked bread. Some of the initial samples smelled more like cheese, others more like pepperoni, but eventually the perfect product emerged.
The company doesn’t envision that people will spray themselves with it, but rather use it as a room fragrance, D'Cruz said.
Only 110 bottles were produced – each featuring the familiar red Pizza Hut logo -- and distributed to the first Facebook fans to ask for the perfume. Since the creation has gotten so much attention, Pizza Hut Canada is planning to produce another batch of bottles to send out as gifts. There are no plans at the moment to retail the product.
Branding expert Karen Post called the project an excellent marketing strategy.
“The viral potential is huge because it’s so off the wall,” Post said.
“Brands like Pizza Hut have the latitude to get quirky because their target audience is highly concentrated in the younger folks and comedy is a great way to be relevant to that audience. If they were selling banking services, it’s maybe a little different.”
Smart PR firms now add top comedians to their distribution lists precisely because they want popular late-night hosts to mention a brand name to their huge audiences, Post said.
Another smart move on Pizza Hut’s part? Creating demand by producing only 110 bottles of the quirky perfume. People always want things that they can’t get their hands on, Post said.
Going on Facebook also allows a company to do a viral marketing campaign “organically and fairly low-cost,” she added.
This isn’t the first time a fast-food company has cooked up a fragrance. You may remember “Flame by BK,” a meat-scented body spray introduced as part of a marketing stunt by Burger King in 2008.
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