Unlike our TV content, which was hilarious and resonating with audiences across the board, our social felt… kinda lame. But most importantly, it felt like a missed opportunity. Little Caesars had the right to push it to “an 11” on social media because of the brand DNA that had been established in traditional channels like TV.
And yes, while it was important to not make our CMO cringe, we also needed to reach younger audiences in a resonant way as they increasingly grew in the life stage where they are deciding on their go-to, in-a-pinch pizza place. This was of paramount importance because Gen Z over-indexes on pizza as their favorite food above things like burgers and Mexican (take that, Taco Bell!).
We had to sell some pizzas too, but this was mostly about driving cultural and generational relevance for the brand.
Luckily, we had a strong foundation to use as a springboard: our brand positioning of “Crazy in the Best Ways.” And what better place to bring this positioning to life than social media, where we had the space to not only say it but to demonstrate it.
We paired the lens of “Crazy in the Best Ways,” with what we knew about our target audience, the Unsung Pizza Heroes. Our favorite analogy to describe our Unsung Pizza Heroes is that they’re a lot like ducks: placid on the surface, but underneath they’re paddling like crazy — juggling classwork, work-work, soccer practices, all on top of what to put on the table for dinner. And they typically turn to social media to not only take a break from the craziness of their lives but to continually find silver linings for themselves and their families. Bringing a little bit of brightness and humor into their day.
Leaning into these elements, we pursued being “Crazy in the Best Ways” on social by developing a distinct brand persona to bring it to life. Lovingly referred to as Conan Fey, this amalgamation of Conan O’Brien and Tina Fey gave our team guardrails to dial the trademark Little Caesars humor up to “an 11,” without crossing over into “mean” territory. We love to shade our competitors, but we’ll never outright clapback at them.
We carried our brand positioning to the visual look and feel, bringing our distinctive brand assets (can you say Pizza!Pizza!) to life on social media. Due to the pandemic, we were initially limited to existing and stock photography. However, the team quickly pivoted with the ebbs and flows of COVID, animating stock and existing photography to make it feel more social-first, and even got scrappy, shooting social content from our apartments. This allowed us to not only maintain the quality but also the craziness that people expect from Little Caesars.
And we developed social messaging pillars, ensuring that we could still help create a consistent messaging calendar across Little Caesars myriad of channels while cultivating brand relevance, especially among a younger audience. We readily and regularly tapped into social listening to flex brand messages in a way that not only aligned with macro social trends but tapped into what our Unsung Pizza Heroes were talking about on social platforms.
Finally, because we truly wanted to bring crazy to life, we jumped into TikTok before our competitors by creating a first-of-its-kind TikTok activation plan. We brought Little Caesars onto a new platform to talk to Gen Z in a way that resonated with them without abandoning the brand DNA. We leaned on early creator success stories, dissecting how they’d been able to amass an audience through real-time content creation and ongoing community management. Additionally, we were able to identify core brand advocates — with a following anywhere from 10 people to 10 million — to help continue evangelizing the brand and its product launches, creating the foundation for the Little Caesars TikTok community.
With a focus on aging down the brand, Little Caesars is now the #1 pizza brand on TikTok in terms of audience size, speaking to the community that we’ve been able to grow in less than 18 months.
As we’ve continued to lean into cultural relevance and speaking our audience’s language, we’ve seen engagement on Twitter increase by 264% since taking over Little Caesars social and a 5.3% engagement rate on Instagram, demonstrating our audience’s continued interest in our content.
And, Little Caesars sales soared, with the success largely attributed to Little Caesars social presence and its ability to drum up demand and excitement for a returning limited-time offer in a way that appealed to loyalists and new audiences alike.
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