Almost Pizza

This Saturday Night Live skit is almost as funny as it is scary. I found it while browsing the “Occupy Monsanto” website. Occupy Monsanto describes itself as a movement “of taking back our food system from these parasitic corporate behemoths who have been poisoning both us and our environment”.  Tell us how you really feel.

The skit may have been written for comedy, but it’s built off a lot of what we’ve been hearing in the news lately on transparency in whats in our food and where it comes from. My Facebook newsfeed has been blowing up lately with stories about a controversy between Monsanto and the state of Vermont. Here’s the scoop.

According to Nation of Change, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin is afraid to back the Vermont legislature in requiring mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food. His reasons? He is afraid of a lawsuit against
Monsanto Company, a multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation headquartered in Missouri and a leading producer of genetically engineered seed and herbicides. In addition, he also “expresses fear that specialty food producers will suffer economic loss because they will be forced to change their genetically modified ingredients, or label them.”

These are valid reasons considering most people would agree that a lawsuit from Monsanto is inevitable. Is it more important to protect our residents from likely damaging ingredients in our food or to protect Vermont’s finances?

Over 61 countries recognize “that there are serious health and safety concerns with GMO foods and animal feed, and so the question remains, will Vermont stand up and set a precedent for the rest of the country?

image from frontview.files.wordpress.com

If Vermont mandates the “Right to Know GMO,” we’ll never again wonder if what we’re eating is Almost Pizza or not.

NP 4/2

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Pizza Hut Hut Hike

According to NRN Pizza Hut hit a single-day sales record on Superbowl Sunday this year with this commercial, compiled of  crowd sourced clips playing football. Using platforms like Facebook and Twitter, they asked fans to submit videos of themselves playing football and saying  “Hut Hut Hut” to appear in a spot during the Superbowl. They weren’t alone in soliciting user-generated content this football season. Companies like Pepsi, Doritos, and Lincoln also creatively crowdsourced for, what most would argue, the most important advertising day of the year in America.

What is it about crowdsourcing that is so effective? For those of you who are unfamiliar with the phenomena, here is a short video to get you up to speed.

Crowdsourcing in advertising embraces the idea that your customers are not only consumers, but producers as well. They are your target audience, but can also be used to perpetuate your brand identity among greater audiences. ” Such opportunities give consumers the illusion that they’re in the driver’s seat. But the real driver: Advertisers are trying to coax consumers into getting more involved with their brands” (USA Today).

This Pizza Hut commercial was very successful. Users submitted their footage online, voluntarily, with the desire to be in a national ad, maybe without realizing they would become a part of the Pizza Hut brand.

Crowdsourcing, in the case of this Pizza Hut Superbowl commercial, is utilizing “Plain Folks”, a technique that persuades people “by appealing to the common man” (ACME). Often times in advertising, companies spend a lot of time and money to make actors / scenes appear to be normal / typical and relatable to their target audience. The great thing about crowdsourcing for advertisements is that the people who submitted their own user generated videos are already in Pizza Hut’s target audience. Much less manipulation has to go into the production of the commercial this way, aside from choosing and compiling which videos they wish to use.

Crowdsourcing is a trend in advertising for a variety of industries. How long do you think it will be until it runs its course?

NP 3/26

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Pulling the Cheese : Domino’s Food Styling and Pizza Porn

You’re sitting at home watching TV when a pizza advertisement comes on. By the end of the commercial, you’re salivating in your mouth at the images you just saw on the screen. You pick up the phone, call Domino‘s and order a pie for delivery. You’re impatient, eagerly awaiting to take a bite of the slice you just saw on TV. 20 minutes later you pay the delivery driver and open the box, expecting to see this:

Pizza Porn

Pizza Porn

But what you really see is this:

“Food photography (or food porn as it’s deemed in this age of Food Network plate-ogling) can make you hungry with a mere glance.  But it’s not easy to get things looking so appetizing and alluring. It takes a ton of skill, timing, artistry, and even some house hold items you should never put in your mouth.” – Fox News

Ever wonder what the process of making a Domino’s commercial looks like? Take a look:

“Food stylists are amazing. They have to do many things to the food to make it look beautiful…They use many tools to make that pizza look the best.” – Hand Model, Domino’s Pizza

It takes “150 people to get down 30 seconds of camera time…if we’re lucky, we get one shot an hour.” – Sam Fauser, Domino’s Pizza Chef

I never thought that they would cut the pizza using a sawzall, or screw down the crust so the cheese will pull just right. It makes sense, I mean how many times have you pulled a slice out of the box and took the cheese off the whole pie?

Although Domino’s released this video to be more transparent, as part of their famous “Oh Yes We Did” campaign, they certainly are not the only company utilizing food styling. Almost every food commercial, photograph, and television show employ at least a little bit food styling to make the food look beautiful.

I haven’t decided yet where I stand about the ethics of “Food Porn”. It’s not unlike other commercials which use different means of persuasion (i.e. beautiful people, humor, values, flattery, straw man). To me, it’s just another important aspect of being media literate. Questioning food media production should be considered thoughtfully like any other kind of media. Some people argue that Food Porn does not practice good ethics, and can be misleading to consumers. What do you guys think? Should you be able to photograph your cake and eat it, too?

WP 3/22

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Eau de Pizza Hut

In December of 2012, Pizza Hut came out with a limited-edition perfume, which smells of “freshly baked, hand-tossed dough,” after joking about it on a Facebook post last August.

pizzahutperfume

The perfume was released to commemorate Pizza Hut Canada reaching 100,000 Facebook fans. Only 110 bottles were produced and shared the first 100 fans to send Pizza Hut Canada a message.

What started as a joke posted by Pizza Hut Canada’s Marketing firm to engage more consumers via Social Media, ended with the company, after much trial and error, creating a scent, Eau de Pizza Hut. Beverley D’Cruz, Marketing and Product Development Director of Pizza Hut Canada says: “What better way to celebrate our Facebook fans than by providing them with a way to enjoy the fresh smell of Pizza Hut pizza whenever they want!”

Eau de Pizza Hut is a perfect example of marketing/advertising in our 21st century media culture, demonstrating a major shift in the way that companies call attention to their products nowadays. This MASS MEDIA  to PERSONAL/PARTICIPATORY shift is evident and a major driving force in the way companies do marketing. Prior to social media platforms like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, campaigns were largely one way highways from the production studio to the masses, limiting customer interaction and participation greatly. With the rise of Web 2.0, everyone with Internet access is invited to the conversation.

As silly as the idea of  Eau de Pizza Hut seems to me, it was a successful way for Pizza Hut Canada to form a stronger relationship with it’s customers through Social Media. This perfume is a small way for Pizza Hut’s public to feel important and for this large multinational company to seem reachable.

pizza-hut-cologne-grease

NP 3/19

 

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A Pizza You Can’t Refuse

Godfathers Pizza
“Besides great-tasting pizza, we’ve got somethin’ else that those other wiseguys don’t. The Godfather. Not only does The Godfather make sure our pizzas are made just the way you like ’em, but he also adds an element of fun that the whole mob can enjoy.” – Godfathers Pizza

Godfathers Pizza is a large restaurant chain owned by Pillsbury and has over 600 locations in 39 states throughout the US. The company’s marketing campaign has remained largely unchanged since it’s founding in the 1970s, basing much of it’s image on the popular book-turned-film The Godfather (1972). From using the borrowed slogan, “A Pizza You Can’t Refuse”, to employing a knock off Don Corleone type actor full time for advertisements, to using the vernacular of a stereotypical New York mob guy throughout the website, I would say that Godfathers is laying it on a little thick. If you are unfamiliar with the famous line, take a quick look.

Now look at a Godfather’s ad from the 1980’s.

How cheesy can you get? (No pun intended).

Reviewing Godfather’s Pizza’s commercials and website had me thinking about ethics in marketing. The American Marketing Association has this to say about respect in their statement of ethics on their website.

             Respect – to acknowledge the basic human dignity of all stakeholders.  To this end, we will:

  • Value individual differences and avoid stereotyping customers or depicting demographic groups (e.g., gender, race, sexual orientation) in a negative or dehumanizing way.
  • Make every effort to understand and respectfully treat buyers, suppliers, intermediaries and distributors from all cultures.
  • Acknowledge the contributions of others, such as consultants, employees and coworkers, to marketing endeavors.

In an Op-Ed piece published on the New York Times in 2011, criticizing former Presidential candidate Herman Cain (previous CEO of Godfather’s Pizza), John Mariani talks about the ethnic stereotyping of Godfather’s Pizza. He wrote, Perhaps because Italian-Americans have generally integrated into society at large, it has become acceptable to mock them. Thus we have the “goombahs” of “The Sopranos” and the “guidos” of “Jersey Shore.” Mariani goes on to say that other assimilated immigrant groups have been spared such mockery.

I have to agree with Mariani on this one. Although Godfather Pizza’s long standing campaign seems to be effective, I think that it is in bad taste, escalating a stereotype on Italian Americans that should remain in the past. It seems to me that in America today it is okay to mock certain ethnic groups, but others are protected, especially from such blatant examples of ethnic stereotyping like Godfather’s Pizza.

What do you guys think? Is Godfather’s Pizza practicing good ethics in their marketing and advertising?

NP 3/12

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Fallacious Pizza Advertising

The average American living in a city sees an estimated 5000 advertisements a day. Rarely is a blank space unfilled. It is becoming increasingly important to view these ads with thoughtful criticism. Identifying fallacies (errors) in arguments as they are presented to you can help you to become more media literate, educated consumer. The top three pizza chains spend just over  half a billion dollars annually on media (Domino’s $185.5 million, Pizza Hut $219.6 million, and Papa Johns $112 million). They are no exception to using fallacious arguments to ultimately persuade the audience to buy their pizza.

The pizza commercial above depicts a heartfelt conversation shared between a father and his son over pizza at CiCi’s. The father is ranting about consistency in baseball while perusing the buffet. The son is listening intently. Toward the end, the son calls his Dad out on taking three different kinds of pizza, negating his father’s point about consistency. The Dad laughs off his son’s cheekiness, and they go to enjoy their meals.

This is an example of one type of emotional fallacy called sentimental appeal. The goal of using a sentimental appeal is to distract the audience from the facts by using “powerful images that evoke emotions in support of that conclusion”(Everything’s An Argument),  the conclusion being in this case that you can be a good Dad, too by bringing your kids to CiCi’s! This warm commercial encourages “Dads to take action in their kids lives”; the only solution for deadbeat Dads to strengthen relationship with their kids to grab a slice at CiCi’s and call it a day. Despite the superficial message, it has good value and CiCi’s is engaging in responsible communication.

Another fallacy in pizza advertising can be applied to the photo above, depicting an artful crop circle stunt done for the promotion of Papa John’s new 100% whole wheat crust. I have to admit, its a clever idea. I do not have the nutritional  expertise to know all of the benefits of eating whole wheat pizza crust, but I do know that healthy sells. Taking a “health” approach in food has been a major trend in food marketing in the past few years. The above crop circle is a creative example of an argumentative fallacy called bandwagon appeals. “Bandwagon appeals are arguments that urge people to follow the same path everyone else is taking” (Everything’s An Argument). Utilizing current trends often driven by mass media can be an effective way to market your product. When viewing advertisements, the audience must remember that they aren’t always so transparent. Papa John’s celebrates their new 100% whole wheat crust, which connotes healthier pizza. In order to become an informed consumer, the audience should educate themselves on how the dough is processed, but also on other ingredients that go into the pizza like cheese and sauce. One slice of a 14inch whole wheat crust cheese pizza from Papa John’s has “280 calories, 12g fat, 38g carbs, 5g dietary fiber, 13g protein, 730mg sodium” (Fitness). So, although the whole wheat crust might be the better alternative compared to the original recipe, if health is the primary concern, consider going elsewhere for a slice. Creative campaign, though, and Papa John’s is still participating in responsible communication because all of the nutritional information is available to their customers if they are interested enough to look.

WP 3/1

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Little Caesar’s Gets Silly

The short 30 second clip begins at a serene lakeside park one sunny afternoon. A man is fishing and lands a big catch. He exclaims, “Woo! Fish!” Another man, enjoying lunch at a picnic table nearby, shares the joy. “Woo! Five Dollar Pizza!” And then a girl comes up raising above her head a bizarrely calm dachshund, “Woo! Dachshund!”. They woo back and forth, and so the three strangers exult in delight in the simple pleasures of life. A big fish can be exciting. So can a five dollar pizza. And so can a dachshund, I suppose.

In June of 2012, Little Caesars teamed up with ad agency Barton F. Graf 9000 and launched it’s first national ad campaign in over fifteen years. This fishing ad is what it came up with. It’s short, simple, sweet, and when it’s over, you sort of wonder of what you just watched. It’s random, funny, memorable, and consistent with the kind of marketing Little Caesars is known for.

Check out their X-Ray Vision ad from 1991.

NP 2/19

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