Shine Creates Radical Repositioning for Toppers Pizza

Madison, WI, August 31, 2006 --( Over the past decade, the pizza category has become a sea of sameness, with each major player trying to be all things to all people. While products, price and promotions have ruled the day, there has been very little focus on creating personality or building meaningful relationships beyond just functional attributes.

“There are few categories with more spending and less differentiation than the pizza delivery segment,” said Curt Hanke, co-founder and account director for Shine. “Our research revealed a tremendous opportunity to focus on a group of people who buy a tremendous amount of volume, but with whom no competitor has developed a meaningful relationship: college students.”

For the campaign, which launches in early September in all eleven Toppers markets, Shine revitalized every point of contact that consumers have with the brand — infusing a sense of irreverence, fun and play into a category — and with a target audience — where these are sorely needed.

“In our research, we talked with college students in Toppers markets, and there was something really powerful about their perspective,” said John Krull, associate creative director at Shine Advertising. “To them, it’s not just about pizza, it’s about the experience of having pizza with friends, the magic of those experiences together. This campaign sought out to own the emotions of what we called ‘Toppers Time’ with college students.”

The Toppers Pizza logo was the first element tackled in the new campaign, transforming the company’s old-fashioned top hat logo into an iconic crown mark, coupled with the new tagline: “Feed the Need.”

Print advertising, being delivered primarily in college newspapers, is the lead communication vehicle. Headlines like, “Every Pizza Is Made With Tender Loving Care. The Exact Same Way We Treated Your Girlfriend Last Night,” “Sure Gluttony Is A Sin. But So Is That Thing You Do With The Spatula,” and “The Good News: We Deliver. The Bad News: Not To Detox,” create a focused relationship between the brand and the college mindset. All print ads feature traditional product coupons along with irreverent offers such as, “Free Dumb Looks From Every Delivery Driver.”

Direct mail is another key medium in reaching college students. To create a truly unique approach to the traditional coupons and menu, Shine developed a foldout poster with impassioned narratives. Featuring artwork from renowned artist Nate Williams (, known for his work with Converse, Xbox, and Pearl Jam, a story accompanies every poster and explicates the narrative of the artwork, each surrounding the idea of conquering hunger. “Hunger Seeks Love” and “Die Hunger Die” are two titles of the imaginative narratives that will be distributed throughout college campuses. “The stories depict hunger as more than a feeling and more like an entity. Something that takes control over you, a monster if you will,” said James Breen, associate creative director for Shine Advertising. “Nothing about this is a typical direct mail. It’s beyond just a menu, more like a piece of art to be hung on the wall.”

To bring the brand personality to the streets, Shine revamped Toppers’ uniforms as well. Untucked mechanic shirts, jeans, skull-caps, and baseball hats with the new logo replace the traditional khaki pants and knit shirts. The new style makes the uniform fashionable and comfortable. “You are what you wear,” said Krull. “Your attitude is reflected in your clothes. Hence a radical uniform overhaul from the traditional pizza-wear to something fresh and unexpected.”

The new brand personality is even encompassed in the Toppers interactive telephone hold system. Instead of a typical hold system, where customers listen to elevator music, Toppers’ new approach actually allows customers to choose their listening experience as they wait to place an order. From squawking cockatiels to letter “M” of the Random House College Dictionary to purring kittens and subliminal messages, this hold system solves the problem of boredom while on hold. With the help of Tom Kane (, whose list of voice-overs include Seinfeld, Taco Bell, Apple, and the 2006 Academy Awards, Shine was able to turn even the most banal experience of being on hold into an enjoyable interaction with the brand.

“Great brands start with a focused audience and focused point of difference. We’ve always had both, but were afraid to really go after it in a meaningful way,” said Scott Gittrich, founder and president of Toppers Pizza. “With Shine’s help, we have unleashed the potential of our company and brand by focusing on the college market and allowing our irreverent personality to come to life. Within our organization, the new campaign has been met with excitement and undying support.”

Headquartered in Whitewater, Wis., Toppers Pizza is set to open its 15th store this year in Onalaska, Wis. Located predominately in college towns, Toppers is a rapidly growing franchise company based on this truly unique approach. Learn more at

Shine Advertising Co., headquartered in Madison, Wis., helps build both up-and-coming and established brands such as Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Co., Peachtree Doors and Windows, Umi Children’s Shoes, Veridian Homes and Kaplan, Inc. A full-service, privately held firm, Shine is dedicated to building passion between people and brands and holds truth, honesty and integrity as its core values. Learn more at
Shine On.

Shine Advertising
Tracy Bliven