It is very interesting to read all the critical comments Hidden Pizza has attracted over the last few weeks. People feel it’s missed the mark, that Yellow Pages simply don’t understand the interweb and the nature of social media. Before I made any decisions and critical remarks I decided to experience Hidden Pizza for myself. Firstly as a keen punter and secondly as a professional. I’m at the very beginnings of my marketing career and I’m mesmerised by anything that gets my attention (and yes that includes boring old TV ads and outdoor posters presented to me on my morning tram rides). So Hidden Pizza was screaming out for a visit plus the coolness factor and the chance to be a part of it was a little hard to resist.
So the story goes like this; we (cool husband and myself) first discovered Hidden Pizza via an email from a friend, this email included notes to find Hidden Pizza in the Yellow Pages. You may think this is cheating, but alas our friend played right into the hands of the mighty Yellow with us both going straight to the Yellow Pages website within minutes of receiving said email.
So the first box, and marketing rule 101 has been checked. Change the punters behaviour and make them think about your brand for a moment.
Being the keen marketers we are, we then Googled Hidden Pizza to find out more. The Hidden Pizza blog was first cab off the rank. It is at this point I want to give kudos to the big Yellow, for they must have been building that blog for months to get it up there and ranked first. They have preempted our Gen XY behavior and covered their bases with a top ranking blog in the biggest search engine on the planet (no mean feat).
The website is cool and groovy, hats off to the video – one of my marketing obsessions at the moment. In fact the website was so cool and groovy that we both remembered to discuss it over dinner that night. We then made a date for free pizza and noted the phone number down in our mobiles. We didn’t give it another thought after that, and nor did we visit the Yellow Pages for any other part of our project.
Now, because the pizza was free I guess they could get away with jerking the punters around a bit. On the proposed date, my husband and I decided to call from work to order our pizzas, but when we called a recorded message said we were too far out of range and would have to call up when we were closer. Huh? closer? out of range? we don’t even know where it is. The website said somewhere in Melbourne, we called from Hawthorn. It’s at this point that I would have given up. But I had the Anthill article by Lachy Wharton up my sleeve (http://anthillonline.com/hidden-pizza-restaurant-reveals-not-so-hidden-flaws-in-yellow-pages-digital-strategy/). So I cheekily kinda knew it was in Fitzroy, and I wasn’t letting sleeping dogs lie – so we jumped in the car and drove toward Fitzroy, I had the hubby ringing the number on both mobiles and by the time we’d hit Hoddle Street we had our tickets.
A friendly text followed with a handy link to a WhereIs map. I tried using WhereIs, it was useless. I was looking for a tiny alley in Fitzroy and this map just didn’t have the detail. Google sorted us out.
Upon entry we were met by a bouncer who asked us to flash or SMS tickets to get in. We waited a bit, but finally got our pizza and dined in style amongst wheelie bins made of recycled wood, walls built of Yellow Pages and tunes kicken out to the likes of Block Party, the Strokes and some Killers. Rad really. Very Rad.
It was at this point I got to thinking. This is what I have always wanted in my neighborly pizza joint. Coolness. Most are lacking in it, in fact there are many places lacking in it and not just pizza joints. Coolness, good food and rad people is where I want to eat – but how do I find them? Word of mouth – YAWN. Google – another YAWN. When I’m searching for somewhere to eat Google just brings up the usual garb; YourRestaurants, MenuLog and bunch of other rubbish websites that give me nothing. I want to find that hidden gem, the one that the locals know about but won’t tell you. The one that can often be run by a food guru who has no idea about SEO and doesn’t really care because the punters are finding him anyway. And rightly so, why should the food guru employ the services of a web guru, who he might not trust, who will give him a big spiel that he won’t understand and who probably won’t track any results for him.
This is where Yellow Pages can add value. They could take this opportunity and become the Facebook and MySpace for small business. Giving these businesses a cheap, comprehensive presence on the internet that is easy to find. So the people will go to Google first, but Yellow Pages can use its brute brand strength to get their customers listings up there in the search engines. Let’s be crazy and add in a bit of analysis to boot. Then you have a site that has tapped the business market, as Facebook has tapped the individuals. A site that meets the needs of its customers and the needs of its users.
After our Hidden Pizza I walked away with the impression that the pizza was just part of a bigger picture. All those critics out there can point their fingers at Yellow Pages. But I say watch this space, the precision in which this project has been executed says to me that nothing has been left to chance. Hidden Pizza might be finishing on April 25, but I have a gut feeling there will be more to come. And even if there is not. Yellow Pages isn’t saying die. They’ll keep having a crack ’til they get it right.