Za by PizzaExpress

How do you use radical, agile innovation to unlock growth for a market leading restaurant group?

Services: Agile Innovation | Rapid Testing | Crowd Learning | Concept Development | Brand Strategy | Brand Positioning | Proposition Development | Brand Identity | Restaurant Design | Packaging Design

Creating an entirely new brand experience from scratch in less than 12 months


In 2018, fast-casual dining was one of the few areas of growth in a struggling casual dining sector. PizzaExpress had the ambition to stretch into this new category and take advantage of consumers looking for more interesting lunchtime options and specifically Pizza to go.

They asked Clear to develop a winning brand proposition and experience to unlock growth in the adjacent and blossoming grab & go sector.


We worked with PizzaExpress to highlight fast-track innovation opportunities to rapidly test with consumers using our Crowd-Learning methodology. Consumers were asked to pick a proposition from PizzaExpress that they’d buy shares in and the ‘by the slice’ proposition won out.

To create Za, we unearthed Pizza Express’s 1965 origins as a ‘to go’ pizza vendor selling slices from a window hatch. We delivered the entire Za proposition – the name, brand identity, irreverent tone of voice, innovative packaging, environmental graphics, digital signage that reacts to the time of day and an in-store experience complete with fresh herbs to pick and add to your own food.

An award winning concept, rolling out nationwide


Within 12 months, the new grab & go concept moved from blank sheet to the London test site launch in February 2019 with two more set to follow within the year.

Za then opened in selected Tesco Extra stores around the country – taking grab & go pizza to a whole new audience.


With the concept proved, the roll out of Za to Tesco Extra stores is set to continue as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The brand won multiple awards, including Best New Brand Identity and Best Brand Strategy at the Design Week Awards 2019 and multiple awards at the Drum Design Awards 2019.

Peter Boizot and his original ideas were our inspiration – he was passionate about enjoying the time you have – whether that’s a little or a lot. He believed that a bit of what you fancy does you good. He challenged conventions whilst encouraging customers and friends to keep everything in balance. So, a bit of pizza, but not a whole one.

Based on Peter’s point of view, the ‘Za life’ philosophy sits behind the choices we made in creating in Za. From where the coffee comes from, to the protein value of the dough recipes balanced with incredible flavours, to new fast innovative packaging formats and specially created cocktails on tap. So – stay a while, hang out or grab some doughballs, a beer and catch the train!

Stephen Haggarty, Executive Creative Director, Clear M&C Saatchi