Pizza Hut perfume reeks of failure

This marketing ploy scent can't mask Yum Brands' slumping fortunes in China -- or previous fast-food cologne missteps.

By Jason Notte Dec 6, 2012 2:31PM

The Pizza Hut perfume from Pizza Hut Canada ( Pizza Hut Canada via Facebook)Ever wish you could bottle the scents of frozen dough, cheese product, corn oil, resignation and the interior of a beat-up '96 Hyundai Excel all into one date-night fragrance?

Yum Brands (YUM) offshoot Pizza Hut Canada's marketing team did. With no National Hockey League games this year, these are desperate days for our friends to the north, and their local Pizza Hut wants to harvest their untapped passion one spritz at a time.

After trolling their Facebook (FB) followers with questions about the scent of a Pizza Hut box being opened, Pizza Hut Canada took the positive responses of kind and charitable Canadians and turned them into 110 bottles of Eau de Pizza Hut. Given the short and unfortunate track record of novelty scents, Pizza Hut Perfume wearers should get used to the smell of impending disaster.

Back in 2008, Burger King (BKW) tried a similar tongue-in-cheek marketing ploy when it introduced a meat-scented men's body spray called Flame by BK. It was available at select New York City stores and on a dedicated Burger King website, smelled like a Whopper and was described as "the scent of seduction, with a hint of flame-broiled meat."

At the time, Burger King really had a thing for the 18-to-35 year-old male demographic and made every attempt to woo the bros with giant burger specials, beer-peddling BK Whopper Bar outlets and its silent funnyman mascot The King. Burger cologne was just another LOL piece of its as-seen-in-Maxim approach to sales.

It all went up in flames during the financial crisis, as cash-strapped dudes fled for more frugal pastures and long-unwanted consumers like children, women and older diners ignored Burger King altogether. By 2010, owner TPG Capital wanted to scrub the reek of Burger King off its books and sold the company for more than $3 billion. That same year, its BKC ticker symbol disappeared as the company went private.

It took Burger King another two years to sanitize the stench of its shortcomings. It just saw same-store sales increase last quarter, has begun shifting company-owned stores to private franchisees and has welcomed back women, kids and seniors with low-priced smoothies, sweet potato fries and premium sandwiches filled with pulled pork and chicken. When it's in the mood for a good old-fashioned gimmick these days, it skews more practical by offering amenities like delivery instead of dollar-store scents.

It's not that there isn't a place for funky scents. Fragrance maker Demeter has produced Play-Doh-branded perfume that smells like the modeling clay and Hello Kitty perfume that doesn't smell like Japanese cartoon cat, but like apples and other things from its world. They're fun and out of context, but do little to divert people's attention back to Hasbro (HAS) or Sanrio, which make the non-perfume versions of both items.

Besides, if Pizza Hut parent company Yum Brands really wanted to turn its scent into more sales, it would start spraying around perfume counters in China instead of Canada. Yum Brands' profit jumped 19% last quarter with a lot of help from China, where 83% of its stores are company-owned. The company's not so optimistic about future profits, as an overall economic slowdown in China is taking a toll on Pizza Hut sales.

Even a perfume with faint hints of a meat-lover's special can't mask the stench when your numbers stink.

More from Money Now

Dec 6, 2012 4:51PM

How about a KFC hair gel that's actually chicken grease; hey guys that'll bring the chicks.

Dec 6, 2012 3:52PM
How about YUM focusing on making a BETTER pizza. Ya know go back to the original pizza recipe that made Pizza Hut famous instead of the cheap **** pizza they serve today. Another dumb board room decision.
Dec 6, 2012 4:27PM
I can see this being a gag-gift but not something for actual use. 
Dec 6, 2012 6:09PM
Should have went with the "Meat Lovers" perfume, Ladies would have loved it, 
Dec 6, 2012 4:11PM
Tidy-Cat to follow suit.....................
Dec 6, 2012 3:35PM

hey guys wear this cologne to insure you never get laid


Dec 6, 2012 3:25PM
You just gotta be kidding.... my brother worked there in high school and came home smelling so bad my Mother would not allow him in the house....made him change his clothes on the back porch.... so if that works into any sort of logic no wonder they are not doing well..... 
Dec 6, 2012 8:23PM
Well guys we get 2 in 1 when we go down south on her and she got that perfume on ...what more can we ask for ??? lol pizza and p**** in one ...all we gotta do is fall asleep after cus we would have had the perfect sex !!...... lol
Dec 6, 2012 3:39PM
Nothing like smelling like a dead fish, either......OMG.
Dec 6, 2012 3:38PM

OMG.....I can't believe shidt like this is happening...Has YUM brands went over the cliff before everyone else....Or is it really something to do with China..?


Used to eat in several burgers joints or other "greasey spoons"...And the odor would stay in the car/truck for hours...No hiding the Bar smells from the wifey at home either.


Never sit near the fryer or grill...

Dec 9, 2012 3:34AM

Life is great!


Chris Van Hollen & Elizabeth Warren in 2016 & 2020!


God bless America!

Dec 6, 2012 7:56PM
pizza hut is literally the worst pizza out there.  i'd rather have a digorno deodorant
Dec 7, 2012 6:10PM
I would've loved to have a bottle of this stuff.  It would make an excellent Christmas gag gift!
Dec 7, 2012 9:03AM
pizza hut cologne, now that is LOL have got to enjoy that...
Dec 6, 2012 7:17PM
How about bottling the scent of a chicken rendering plant especially in those hot humid summer months?!
Dec 6, 2012 3:43PM
Well said Kerri.....The Bar smells never got me anything late at night, after getting home.
Feb 25, 2013 5:53AM
I won a bottle of it and received it today. Yuck!!!! It smells really strongly like oregano or basil. I got a tiny bit on my hand trying to test it and had to wash my hand 5 times. So overpowering. You can't wear it.
Jan 3, 2013 2:15AM
I actually have a bottle, smells like you could eat it! It doesn't smell like grease and cheese, more like their dessert pizza *droools*
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