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107: Zipporah Allen on Pizza Hut’s partnerships with its new agency and the NFL

In this week’s episode of “Marketing Today,” Alan spoke with Zipporah “Zip” Allen, who was named CMO of Pizza Hut in January of this year, after having been with the company since May of 2015. Prior to her time at Pizza Hut, Allen was at McDonald’s for eight years. Perhaps most notable in her tenure at McDonald’s was the three years she spent as national marketing manager for Australia.

Allen has been very active since assuming her role as CMO. Recently, she led Pizza Hut’s agency search, ultimately deciding to join forces with GSD&M in Austin, Texas. And as we head toward fall and the kickoff of another football season, Pizza Hut is kicking off another new partnership. This year, they will be the official pizza sponsor of the NFL. In talking about that new venture during the podcast, Allen noted the connection fans have with the NFL — and sports in general — and why it matters for Pizza Hut. “I think the ‘live’ nature of it,” says Allen, “and the fact that it’s just this authentic place where consumers are really passionate about it, are the two things that make sports really attractive, especially for a brand like ours.”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today” podcast include:

  • On the fast track: Allen traces her career path and talks about bringing iconic brands to life. (1:34)
  • Allen places great importance on her time in Australia with McDonald’s, noting how it sparked great personal and professional growth. (6:29)
  • “It’s a great time to be in the pizza category.” Allen discusses consumer expectations regarding pizza purveyors and Pizza Hut’s $130 million investment to become a more digitally enabled and delivery-focused organization. (8:26)
  • “We’re all about the fans.” Allen on Pizza Hut being named the official pizza sponsor of the NFL. (11:48)
  • In naming GSD&M as its agency of record, Allen believes Pizza Hut found an agency that brings the brand’s values to life. (15:48)
  • Allen discusses the search that led to choosing GSD&M, and how, in a commoditized category, they are taking Pizza Hut to “a more emotional place.” (17:47)
  • A deep appreciation for the sacrifices made by her parents and grandparents: Allen talks about her half African-American/half Filipino heritage. (23:12)