Yellow Pages “ Free PIZZA “ offer now closed

Do you like Pizza?. Well if you do and wanted to take advantage of a free offer you are to late, Last month saw a great deal that had markets buzzing.  image

In an market research exercise last month about putting a brand and products to the test  Yellow Pages in Australia, while keeping distance to see what happened, had a disguised involvement in a PIZZA promotion.

The Hidden PIZZA Restaurant homepage read:

Finding the restaurant is easy, just look it up the way you would any other business from April 12 – April 25 and the pizzas are free. Make sure you phone ahead to order as no pizza orders are taken at the door.* And get in quick, our restaurant fills up fast. *Limit one per day.  Melbourne callers only. Subject to availability

The catch was the customers had to  track down the pizza shop’s location themselves.

With so many free business registers and easy internet search, one may well ask why would a the last resort firm like Yellow pages even bother.  It seems to many that this locally based fee based business listing service is wasting its time on death-bed campaigns.

Well all that aside here are some stats they made public.

In the two weeks of operation, the restaurant received just over 8,000 calls. Each time someone called, we asked them where they found the number.

The results showed more than 70% of callers found the number in Yellow Pages. Here’s a breakdown of the results:

  • 6079 calls found the number in Yellow Pages
  • 2167 calls found the number in other ways (word of mouth, email, blogs, etc.)
    Following this campaign it was clear that viral marketing, where social media spreads the word quickly, was a key  driver. Here is an excerpt from a post on an April 16, 2010 | By Lachy Wharton where he talks about this.

Earlier this week, a new pizza restaurant launched in Melbourne that has lit up the social media scene. The twitter-sphere is buzzing with mainly positive wraps. Food and culture blogs have universally given it a big thumbs up.

It’s called Hidden Pizza Restaurant, and by all accounts, it’s a pretty exceptional place with sustainable design, delicious pizza, tasty homemade lemonade and a line stretching waaaaaaay out the door (the kind that makes you feel like you’re one of the ‘in-crowd’).

And, oh yeah, the pizza is free.

To the answer to the dinosaur question, the jury is still out on why a subscription based media based firm would bother. But what caught my attention was comment that they now know so the ball is in their court to find solutions and transform

Here is what Stephen Ronchi, Strategic Communications Manager at Sensis, which owns Yellow Pages Australia, had to say.

While the restaurant was open, the Yellow Pages listing for Hidden Pizza Restaurant was among the top organic search results on Google for the keyword search “hidden pizza”.  Add to that the high brand awareness of Yellow Pages and its recognized role providing business information and you can see how these organic search listings become very valuable.

In a full post response to market feedback on the campaign published under a heading Hiding pizzas and proving value by Anthill  to Stephen Ronchi goes on to say

To credibly demonstrate the value of Yellow Pages, we had to operate the Hidden Pizza Restaurant under certain limitations. This meant disguising our involvement and not interfering with the search challenge we created. Of paramount importance was being able to maintain the integrity of the exercise and have legitimate results we could use at the end of it.

When I read the comments on made my Mark seemed to contradict this.

The funniest part of Yellow Pages using those stats is that when me and my workmates rang the lady on the phone effectively bullied us into saying yellow pages.
her: how did you find us?
Me: my mate told me about it
her: yeah but how did you get our number
Me: my mate gave it to me
her: but if your mate hadn’t given it to you
Me: well i saw something on Twitter about it too
her: ok, but if you didn’t look there
me: yellow pages?
her: ok thanks
Obviously people are going to say they found it on Yellow Pages because that’s the answer that gets you a free pizza!

i am not are that rings true as it seems the "lady" questioning wanted hard data and was entitled to a sensible answer. A push-off like “my mate told me” is quite typical of some Aussies, especially in groups, who sadly don’t tolerate market research questions well and do things to frustrate them. So I can image her thinking I have another jerk here as she tried to do her job with smile. In fairness I must print the Stephen Ronchi  response

I’m sorry (and surprised) that was your experience. The instruction to our call takers was to record where the caller found the number. And the answer had no link to the pizza – we gave more than 2000 pizzas to people who didn’t find the number in the Yellow Pages!

As they say in business, any feedback is good feedback even if it is bad. And especially so when something goes viral being worth talking about and easy to pass on. Clearly in this case the campaign by these standards is a success, which was the whole point of the exercise.

image Whether or not it is seen as a success by others or not for Sensis it is a great business lesson for them. If you search the web you will find this as a case study now being widely discussed across the world in blogs and even now linked to universities like SMU in Singapore.

In the Sydney Morning Herald ANDREW MCUTCHEN on April 15, 2010 wrote “ What has been such fast-spreading viral campaign, Hidden Pizza exploded onto the blog and social networking scene in days promising free pizza – one per person each day for 14 days, until April 24.

In his article he uses expert quotes spin with VIRAL MARKETING TIPS from Brazen Productions’ Kimberly Palmer

 1.     Create a story about your brand or product – make it so unique that others will tell it for you

2.     Make sure it’s a good product – don’t disappoint people when they engage with you

3.     Don’t be too tricky – your idea can be simple, but it must be super creative

4.     Know the audience you’re trying to reach – who and where are the people you are targeting? Hidden Pizza know their customers like Aesop soap so they have it in the bathrooms. Apply the same level of research

5.     It’s not about the technology – all you need is an email with a website address attached

For sure Sensis too will be watching this and taking advantage of the consulting value it brings that they would otherwise pay millions for.  "From the horse’s mouth" so to speak it also spreads the word about Yellow Pages as a brand. They must be thrilled?

The trick now is how Sensis will use the value of their more institutionalized Yellow Pages brand to learn and transform their business. Like many they are now on my watch list as we observe how they will use what they have learned to take this household and B2B brand and transform their company from being perceived as artifact to state of the art.

There are so many other aspects to consider in this example which for many take a three year degree in marketing to even begin understand.  I am also curious to know what the underlying Hidden Pizza business is doing to keep their new found fame viral in their own right now that Yellow pages have their result.

By the way if you are interested to know where is the Hidden Pizza Restaurant address which has long since been revealed is:


22 thoughts on “Yellow Pages “ Free PIZZA “ offer now closed

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