Retail Therapy: This DTC brand takes the plunge

It’s been another weird week in retail. DTC brand Staff breaks into consumers’ bathrooms, companies jump onto the NFT craze and Pizza Hut launches a campaign centered around nostalgia.

This, and more, in this week’s retail therapy.

This DTC brand has its sights set on the bathroom

Roughly a decade after Bonobos, Warby Parker and Dollar Shave Club were founded, it seems like most categories of retail and beyond have been “disrupted” in one way or another by a direct-to-consumer brand.

The DTC mattress space alone has become especially saturated with competition as brands continue to throw their hats into the bed-in-a-box ring.

But just when you thought there was little to no white space for a brand to break into, one company stepped up to the plate.

Staff is a direct-to-consumer brand that got its start by selling vibrantly colored plungers. Glamorous, right?



“Being stuck in my tiny New York apartment during Covid, I started thinking of ways to improve my time in the space. Ways to make each day brighter,” Founder Charlie Weisman said in a statement.

The company has since expanded its assortment to include hangers with more products “coming soon,” according to its website.

“I soon realized there are endless functional products we all regularly interact with that lack any sort of personality,” Weisman added. “The idea behind Staff is to bring these items to life in a fun way — using bold colors, unique materials, and characters that are eager to help.”

Welcome to 2021, where nothing is as it seems

Up until last week — when a digital work titled “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” by artist Mike Winkelmann (or “Beeple”) sold for $69.3 million — the phrase non-fungible tokens likely wasn’t in your vocabulary.

NFTs are a kind of cryptocurrency — you know, like Bitcoin or Ethereum — that converts digital images into unique, verifiable assets that can then be sold through blockchain.

Since last week, though, several brands have jumped on the NFT train.

Pringles on Twitter earlier this week introduced a new flavor, “CryptoCrisp,” created by artist Vasya Kolotusha.

The brand said only 50 exist with prices starting at the price of a regular Pringles can. As of press time, the cans were being auctioned off on online marketplace Rarible for 0.31 WETH, or in non-cyrptocurrency values, about $564.

But Pringles wasn’t the only one to get in on the fun. Both Pizza Hut Canada and Charmin announced they would be selling digital artworks of their own, with the latter doing so to help raise money for Direct Relief — a nonprofit organization that helps provide emergency relief to communities in need.



While we aren’t sure how long this craze will last, a digital image of toilet paper — which is so close, yet so far from the real thing — may be the perfect thing to commemorate those early days spent sheltering at home.

Pizza Hut serves up nostalgia

Because we can’t seem to escape digital technologies this year, Pizza Hut offered yet another way to entertain ourselves. But this time, with a hint of nostalgia.

The company this week launched a campaign dubbed “Newstalgia” that leans into “All that Fans Know and Love About the Pizza Restaurant.”

Pizza Hut teamed up with actor and comedian Craig Robinson, known for his role on “The Office,” to serve as brand spokesperson and to star in a TV spot.

To coincide with the campaign, the restaurant teamed up with PAC-MAN to create an augmented reality-enabled game on limited-edition boxes.

Pizza Hut


“Everyone has their own special Pizza Hut memory – from being a BOOK IT! kid or grabbing post-game pizza with your little league buddies,” Robinson said. “Growing up in the 80s, mine was going into Pizza Hut and devouring those little PAC-MAN dots just like I did my pizza. Those arcade games in the restaurant — there was nothing better as a kid.”

Pizza Hut also kicked off a contest earlier this week for fans to enter for a chance to win an Arcade1Up PAC-MAN game cabinet. Interested consumers must purchase a large pizza from the restaurant and scan the QR code on the box and play the PAC-MAN game. Afterward, players must share their scores via Twitter tagging @PizzaHut and using the hashtags #PizzaHutARcade and #Sweepstakes. One winner will be selected on April 3.

“There aren’t many brands with more iconic elements than us, whether it’s the red cups, checkered tablecloths, connection to pop culture and entertainment — like PAC-MAN — or our iconic Pan Pizza,” said George Felix, chief marketing officer at Pizza Hut. “As we look to connect with a new generation of pizza lovers, we are tapping into those things that make Pizza Hut great in a modern and relevant way.”