Why Pizza Hut’s Retro Arcade Worked

RTX 2015

You’ve probably never heard of RTX (think the video-game and internet culture enthusiast’s version of Comic-Con), yet Pizza Hut recently became it’s very first topline sponsor. The Yum Brands subsidiary rebranded the entire event as “RTX Delivered by Pizza Hut”, placed some very prominent signage all around the festival in Austin TX, and as the main attraction, set up a massive retro arcade gaming tournament, which included classic arcade games like Mario Bros., Mortal Kombat, and Pac Man. Oh, and they also made sure to hand out tons of free samples of their Cheesy Bites Pizza to attendees, ultimately giving out over 8,000 slices. What made Pizza Hut decide to go all out for RTX, a relatively unheard of and niche event for internet addicts? There are a few reasons that this was a stellar move for the Hut.

Experiential Niche

As we often mention on this blog, major brands are beginning to realize the importance of connecting through experiential marketing, and doing so with specific sectors of their target audience, so that they can tailor the experience to suit the interests of those groups. Pizza Hut knows that internet junkies consume a lot of their product, and it pays handsomely for the brand to be the first pizza place on their minds when they’re about to dial for the delivery that will fuel their LAN party or late-night World of Warcraft binge.

First Mover Advantage

These types of conferences have been blowing up – TED, SXSW, and Comic-Con have all gained massive media attention, and often attract numerous celebrities. YouTube and social media celebrities that boast continually growing subscriber-bases make a habit of sharing their experiences at these sorts of events, leading to viral growth in attendees. VidCon, for example, may be the next SXSW, and reaches a much younger audience of frequent YouTubers. Pizza Hut is taking an educated gamble on RTX, because they’ve seen it’s massive growth over the last 5 years, and they know their customers are in attendance.


By creating a massive retro-gaming tournament, Pizza Hut was not only speaking their customer’s language, they were creating an extremely appealing and novel experience that they’ll remember for years to come. By roping in some relevant celebrities within the community, and setting up the whole thing to be shared and live-streamed on YouTube and other social media, they were able to reach an even larger audience than just those who were in physical attendance. And when your target audience is comprised of people who spend most of their time on the internet, that’s extremely important.

Learn more about Experiential Marketing.

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