In short order, we’ve gone from calling in orders by telephone (which feels prehistoric now), to sending them online, to texting them, to filling them via emoji.
For the second straight year, the pizza chain rolled out Pie Tops, a marketing stunt featuring a pair of high-top basketball sneakers capable to sending an order with the press of a button. Unlike last year, when Pizza Hut gave away a handful of Pie Tops, 50 pairs of the sneakers will be available for purchase online.
I recently snagged a pair of Pie Tops II and successfully ordered pizza. I also stopped my TV show for pickup. It’s definitely cool, and easy, but maybe you shouldn’t rush to pay for a pair, which go on sale this week on online retail site HBX.
Here’s something I did not expect when first sporting a pair of Pie Tops II: They’re kind of comfortable. Granted, I didn’t try to play half-court pickup basketball while wearing them, but walking around in Pie Tops was perfectly fine.
One, two, press on your shoe
Users need a Pizza Hut account to place orders, then they can choose an address and preferred pizzas. When you first fire up the Pie Tops app, you will pair the shoes to your smartphone, which you’ll need to keep handy after you place an order. Unfortunately, you can’t do custom orders. It only accepts orders part of Pizza Hut’s promotion of two medium pizzas for $5.99 each. There are only a handful of pizzas to choose from, such as hand-tossed pepperoni or Original Pan Supreme.
The left shoe features an IR button on the tongue where tapping while aiming at a compatible DVR set-top box will pause live TV. The right shoe is where you order pizza. To avoid the accidental pizza order, users can choose to single tap, double tap or tap and hold the button.
Three, four, pizza at the door
Once you press, a confirmation pops up on your phone. You confirm the order via app and then the pizza arrives.
If you want to speed up the process, users can add payment information and their default address before ordering, although it’s a bit tricky. You have to add payment information through Pizza Hut’s website, but not the Pie Tops app.
They pause your TV, too
If ordering pizza wasn’t enough, there’s also a pause button built in the shoe supported by set-top boxes from TV providers including DirecTV, Verizon FiOS and Xfinity. There is no setup required: just point your shoe to the TV and hit the button to pause.
There’s about a one- to two-second delay between pressing the button on the shoe and your program pausing, but I found it very useful.
Do you really need these?
Let’s state the obvious here: this is clearly a marketing stunt. Branding consultant Allen Adamson said the main goal here is to generate buzz for Pizza Hut.
“Figuring out how to make the pizza story more interesting based on the crust and the cheese — there’s no more difference,” he said. “That game is really tough to win.”
Really, your interest in these shoes should come down to how deep your affection is for Pizza Hut. Do you REALLY love their pizza, so much so you will commit to wearing red (or beige) high-tops just in case you get the urge for pizza you can then order at a moment’s notice with your shoes? Then, sure, go ahead and splurge.
Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.