Boston Pizza pivots away from indulgence

The restaurant's massive new campaign focuses on gourmet ingredients and lighter additions to its menu.


Boston Pizza is rethinking the way it communicates its message as it brings something new to the menu.

The casual dining chain has added thin-crust pizzas to its permanent menu in an effort to broaden its appeal and keep up-to-date with current trends. Adrian Fuoco, senior director of marketing for the chain, said the restaurant’s “bull’s eye” of adults age 35 with kids at home hasn’t necessarily changed, but their mindset has.

“Our message [several years ago] might have been, ‘Hey Dad, come out to Boston Pizza and watch the game.’ And we did well with that. But now the millennial cohort is more interested in the quality of the food. They’re less interested in “Get your indulgence on.’”

For that reason, Boston Pizza has embarked on an extensive campaign led by John St. Fittingly, Fuoco said the creative – while still quippy and peppered with humour – is packing a less “heavy” feel. “In the pizza space, we’ve always inhabited the richer, thicker kind of pizza,” he said. “You see the close-ups of the cheese pulling, the steam rising off the pepperoni.”

He said the new recipes and messaging will position it as a competitor to the smaller, local chains like Toronto’s Pizza Libretto that specialize in thin crust pizza. “We have to photograph this style of pizza differently, to reflect on the more contemporary feel.” The new creative focuses mainly on top-down shots of pizza, mimicking the “flatlay” style that is ever-popular in the Instagram food and lifestyle space. He added that the new menu and creative would likely skew to a slightly female audience.

He said Boston Pizza will continue to inhabit the melty-cheese, steaming-pepperoni space, and compared it to Tim Hortons’ Dark Roast launch. “They didn’t walk away from their bread and butter, they just said, ‘Hey, we’re expanding into this area too.’”

Because the new menu item is permanent, Boston Pizza is embarking on a massive media spend for the campaign, incorporating television, digital and out-of-home ads, programming against sports (a long-time pillar of the restaurant’s marketing) as well as family favourites on conventional and specialty. Fuoco said the scale of the campaign is part of an effort to ensure the public knows about Boston Pizza’s evolving priorities.

Other campaign elements include in-restaurant POS material, paid social showing a “behind-the-scenes” look at how Boston Pizza kitchens are making the new menu additions and giveaways for MyBP loyalty members.

The ads mainly target millennials and people with young families, and while the bull’s eye is adults age 35 with kids, there is some fluidity to the target itself, said Fuoco. He also noted that although this demographic profile might have been the same 10 years ago, the brand is taking a different approach.