Animated GIFs Are Still Awesome

Happy Onion

Let’s start the year on a lighter note…

So, over the holidays, we indulged in some good ol’ Pizza Hut – yes, it’s been a minute. I never thought that dinner would generate a blog post, but lo and behold.  What spurred on this entry was Pizza Hut Canada’s fun use of some simple and effective animated GIFs that quickly conveyed the status of our delivery order.

Animated GIF: Streaming for 35-years

For those not aware, animated gifs are one of the earliest forms of a self-contained visual computer animation that predates the web significantly.  They were first introduced as “87a” files in 1987 by CompuServe (a Bulletin Board System (BBS)) and supported multiple images in a stream that could easily be downloaded by dial-up modems. They were one of the first cross-platform files computer users could exchange easily. GIF was one of the two first image formats supported on the web. You can read in-depth from the source about GIF files.

The GIF file and related animations have always been in the background with their popularity by web designers waxing and waning over the last thirty-years.  Favour fell to PNGs, then Flash Animation was all the rage and now we have JavaScript, full HD video and CSS animations decorating websites as bandwidth, scripting and computing capabilities have all ballooned. Yet, there is still a strong place and time for a good, animated GIF to take the stage!

A masterful application of animated GIF

For Pizza Hut Canada, that takes the shape of a couple of characters that spice up the status pages after you place a delivery order.  We start out with a static image of a slice and a pineapple sitting beside one another waiting for the first step. (This is a tongue in cheek statement on the pineapple on pizza debate!)

Onion Sliced Animated GIF - Pizza Hut Preparing

Once you have your order built, the fun begins with a plain text status along with a time stamp showing the predicted window for delivery.

The animations and characters change based on your pizza’s journey through the system.  The first is the joyful onion smiling happily on screen – until its right side is lopped off by an unseen knife!  The onion looks shocked and then starts to cry… before putting its slices back together which serves for a seamless loop point for an animated GIF.

Once your pizza hits the oven, our teary onion friend is replaced by a hot pepper in a lounger tanning on a beach under the sun.  Naturally, no tan is complete without the tin-foiled cardboard reflector to really crank-up those rays (of course the pepper has SPF 50 on too).

Tanning Pepper - Pizza Hut In the Oven Status Animated GIF
Pizza Slice and Tomato Dancing - Pizza Hut Order Confirmation Animation

The animations ultimately give way to a more “modern” technology of real-time tracking of the delivery car as it zooms from your nearest Hut to your front door.  First of course we have to have a little celebratory dance that the ‘za is on its way!

We aren’t quite done with our GIF journey though.  Once the delivery is complete (and witnessed only if you left the pizza tracker on the web page open – yay for distraction surfing) you get to enjoy the final Pizza Party GIF.  Another statement on pineapple not being present at the party (and even the file name reflects this on examination, “pizza-party-no-pineapple).  I’m starting to think the designer of this campaign doesn’t like Hawaiian pizza.

Pizza slice partying - Pizza Hut Delivered Animated GIF
Tomato Diving off High Board onto Pizza with a Splash - Pizza Hut Email Header Order

Shortly after, another animated GIF shows up in your email inbox thanking you for your order and providing delivery details and encouraging feedback reviews. Hence the score card I suspect.

You can clearly see, for an old-hat web designer and developer, the animated GIF that shows up on a pizza tracker is indeed a nostalgic trigger.  Well done Pizza Hut, and yes I do pineapple on pizza!

Want to create some fun with animated GIFs or otherwise embellish your new or existing website? Insignis Design has been creating since 1995. Reach out and let’s discuss your next project!