When consumers can identify a brand with a worthy cause they admire, that emotional connection goes a long way toward building brand loyalty.
 
Since 1984, Pizza Hut has nurtured a love of reading through its BOOK IT! Program—inspiring one in five Americans along the way. Now, through the 2016 launch of Pizza Hut: The Literacy Project, company officials hold an even greater aspirational goal: To transform the lives of 100 million people in just 10 years, by enabling access to books and educational resources, empowering teachers, and inspiring readers.
 
All funds donated through The Literacy Project go to the nonprofit social enterprise First Book to help provide free books that are age-appropriate and culturally relevant to children in need in communities.
 
Natasha Collins, Manager of Social Impact at Pizza Hut, told Loyalty360 that company officials want to inspire young readers across the country to find joy in reading.
 
“To help drive awareness and support for the cause, we’re tapping into consumer nostalgia by asking people what was their favorite childhood book,” Collins explained. “We believe all children should grow up with a memory of a ‘favorite childhood book,’ and hope the campaign inspires consumers to join us as we help to start a new chapter. By simply donating, consumers can provide access to books for millions of children in the U.S., who currently may not have books in their home. To incentivize people to participate in the conversation, we’re also giving away a travel experience to bring one lucky person’s favorite childhood book to life.”
 
Collins said that Pizza Hut officials know that their customers want to purchase from brands that reflect their own values.
 
“While it’s too soon to say how our consumers will engage with this year’s giving program, during The Literacy Project’s first year we impacted 15.9 million lives and provided more than 275,000 books and educational resources to kids in need,” Collins explained. “Literacy is an often-overlooked social issue, but the reality is one in four children in America can’t read this sentence.”
 
Emotional loyalty is driven by shared values, Collin noted.
 
“We know that customers want the brands they purchase to align with their values, and we believe this is a cause that will resonate with consumers in every community,” she said. “Literacy is a critical social issue, with 25 million children in the U.S. unable to read proficiently. We’re working to change that by transforming 100 million lives in just 10 years.”
 
This year’s Pizza Hut: The Literacy Project launched with a reading celebration at an elementary school in Encino, Calif., featuring multi-platinum musician, TV personality, and father of three Nick Lachey.
 
“He [Lachey] read the book ‘Secret Pizza Party’ to the students, and then surprised them with books and a secret pizza party of their very own!” Collins added. “If the students’ response was any indication of the excitement and consumer engagement to come, we’ll be well positioned for a tremendous impact on the cause. Since we formally launched The Literacy Project in 2016, more people are aware of our support for literacy. When consumers are aware of our work in this area, they have a higher opinion of our brand. In fact, those who are aware of our commitment to literacy are more likely to name us as their favorite restaurant.”

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