The Digital Transformation of an Iconic Brand: A Q&A with Jeff Klein

August 6, 2021

By Leah Marshall

ANA

Over the last 62 years, Little Caesars has grown from a single store in Detroit to the third largest pizza chain in the world. During that time, the brand has established its personality, beloved character and tagline (pizza! pizza!) through memorable — and slightly off-center — advertising. In their presentation at this year’s ANA Digital and Social Media Conference, presented by Meredith, Little Caesars CMO Jeff Klein and McKinney CEO Joe Maglio shared how they reinvigorated the brand with a fresh campaign that sparked conversation and drove results. To get more insight into the brand’s efforts, we caught up with Jeff for a Q&A.

Attendees can check out Jeff’s presentation and video, as well as the other sessions from the conference including Mattel, Eos, Mastercard, McCormick & Company, Petco, Hershey's, King's Hawaiian, Hyundai, Intel, Amgen, Eli Lilly, and more.

 

Q. What inspired the creative direction of the campaign?

Our fans! The last time pretzel crust was available was February 2019, and loyalists had been clamoring every single day for it to come back. One consumer created a Change.org petition, others “protested” outside our headquarters, and one even Tweeted offering their first born in exchange for the salty, cheesy product to come back to the menu. We sought to build excitement and buzz ahead of the relaunch, giving our pretzel crust fanatics early access to the product and custom pretzel-crust themed prizing and swag.

 

Q. How was digital media and social media leveraged throughout the campaign?

Codes were hidden in content on Instagram, Reddit, and within influencer posts. We also dropped hints on social about codes hidden IRL, like mysterious coordinates posted to Twitter which led rabid fans to a mobile billboard in the middle of the Nevada desert. Our content drove to a landing page where each code could be entered, for a chance to win custom pretzel crust swag and a free pretzel crust pizza.

 

Q. What channels were used to promote the campaign?

Name a channel and we leveraged it, always keeping our consumers guessing — we hid codes in TV spots, rink side at an NHL game, in a giant snow circle, code within code on our HTML site, and even in a Gigapixel image posted to Reddit.

 

Q. What were the success metrics established in advance, and notable campaign outcomes? Engagement and social sentiment were our primary goals and we exceeded our goals.

Engagement rate was plus 58 percent against benchmark as we saw fans searching for codes and responding to posts. Our sentiment was overwhelmingly positive, 35 percent higher than benchmark. In fact, negative sentiment was extremely low in the social space.

 

Q. Are there any trends in digital marketing or social media that you’re seeing that you applied to the campaign’s execution?

Our engagement on Reddit, while just one aspect of this multimedia campaign, played a huge role in our ability to directly communicate with customers in a real-time authentic way.

While Reddit has 52 million daily active users and tends to attract a younger audience (58 percent of Reddit users are 18-34 compared to 40.7 percent of Facebook users), brands and marketers have been hesitant to leverage it. By understanding the behavior and attitudes on the platform, we were able to create custom activations that spoke directly to that group.

We were truly amazed at how quickly consumers grabbed a hold of this idea, and how much sharing and collaborating was going on between them on Reddit and other social media platforms.


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