MR. PIZZA Promo, Case study TRUE ORIGINS OF PIZZA by Ss+k New York

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Industry Restaurants, Pubs & Bars
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market United States
Agency Ss+k New York
Director John S. Park Addict Films
Art Director Mike Yang
Copywriter Andrew Clarke, Kash Sree, Paul Spelman
Producer Amanda Mccroskery
Editor Tamara Treu
Released October 2011

Credits & Description

Category: Retail and E-commerce, including Restaurants
Advertiser: MR PIZZA
Agency: SS+K
Chief Creative Officer: Kash Sree (SS/K)
Art Director: Mike Yang (SS/K)
Copywriter: Kash Sree (SS/K)
Copywriter: Paul Spelman (SS/K)
Director Of Production: John Swartz (SS/K)
Producer: Amanda Mccroskery (SS/K)
Senior Digital Strategist: Kevin Skobac (SS/K)
Editor: Tamara Treu
Director: John Park (Addict Media Films)
Executive Producer: Yu Hyun Cha (Addict Media Films)
Assistant Director: Bonjun Jung (Addict Media Films)
Media placement: Online Film - Online - 1 October 2011

Summary of the Campaign
Mr. Pizza is Korea’s largest pizza chain, and it had plans to expand into the US. However, most Americans had never heard of the brand or likely ever considered a pizza company from Asia. Our aim was to build US awareness and interest by surrounding consumers with a motivating story that was reinforced by peers, cultural influencers and mainstream media. We would then leverage buzz and excitement in the US market to improve the chain’s progressive image back in Korea.

To accomplish this, we created an online documentary exploring a made-up theory that pizza was invented in Korea and stolen by the Italian explorer Marco Polo in the 13th century. We carefully orchestrated the rollout of the story:

- An initial guerilla campaign on the streets let audiences discover the content in a natural way, leading to social media buzz.

- We seeded videos to pop-culture blogs who would be attracted to the funny and entertaining video content.

- We levered up and down aspects of the story and community comments to drive cultural debate, resulting in Asian culture blogger coverage.

- Mainstream media was tipped off as views of the documentary skyrocketed, giving us mass-market exposure in newspapers and on TV news.

The quality of the content and the subtlety of the branding ensured a successful PR push for the campaign. The documentary went viral, clocking up 2.2m views, earning 2m dollars in unpaid media impressions and giving the client a 1,600% return on investment.

The Situation
Although huge in Korea, Mr. Pizza had only two stores in the US market and saw an expansion opportunity. With minimal budget, they were looking for a way to announce their presence in a market where casual pizza restaurants are everywhere. They needed to address the fact that pizza isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Korean food. If they could do this in a clever and humorous way, consumers would like and try the brand. They also wanted to increase their progressive image with the younger demographic back in Korea by leveraging US attention.

The Goal
A Korean pizza chain lacked legitimacy in the U.S. market, so we needed to give consumers a reason to believe in Mr. Pizza’s credibility. Despite minimal funds, we set out to intrigue consumers nationwide.

We targeted influencers for initial seeding, and then surrounded the audience by aiming the campaign at media. We also targeted Korean culture bloggers and academics that would stir up conversation around the story.

To finesse the subtleties of the cultural message so it resonated deeply with the audience, we brought onboard a native Korean expert who helped us push the right cultural buttons.

The Strategy
We started by teasing the story terrestrially with gorilla posts to drive intrigue and speculation. We then tapped bloggers in food, culture and entertainment verticals to seed the content.

Our next phase was to fan the conversation to build legitimacy and set the stage for broader coverage. We stoked controversy by turning on and off the Korean blogger properties, and inserting comments into dialogue. We utilised a story in Wall Street Journal Korea for headline breakout.

As intrigue in the campaign reached a fervent pitch, we went mass with mainstream media targeting. Last, we marketed the buzz campaign itself by giving an exclusive to AdWeek.

The heart of the campaign was an aggressive 1-month push to generate as much engagement around the story as possible, maximising the chances that it would find a life of its own. We worked with a social video distribution partner to power the unbranded seeding and popular culture media outreach. We also launched extensive social media monitoring here in the US, and partnered with a Korean agency to identify and measure uptick in Korean media.

We watched the level and sentiment of activity closely so we could 'stir the pot' by turning on and off certain properties. Once the organic growth reached its peak we announced the brand’s purpose with an exclusive in AdWeek.

Documented Results
The documentary went viral, clocking up 2.2m views, evenly split between the US and Asia. We achieved our objectives of generating massive amounts of conversation in influencer communities. We were able to get hundreds of popular culture blogs to amplify our message, and reach all the way to the Wall Street Journal and international broadcast news coverage to turn the story global from the US to Korea.

We also started a huge online debate, with thousands of passionate comments and blog posts about Korean national identity, disputed history and the role of satire in Korean humor. The campaign was praised in both Korea and the US for its sophisticated satirical approach and attention to detail, a rarity in this category.

The campaign earned 2m dollars worth of earned media impressions, giving the client a 1,600% return on their investment.