hidden pizza – marketing radness or a campaign gone wrong?

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.

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7 Responses to hidden pizza – marketing radness or a campaign gone wrong?

  1. tannyboy says:

    Funny – All the social commentary of how people found the hidden pizza restaurant was through Google.

    When I also received said email, i popped in “Hidden Pizza Restaurant” into google, Yellow pages wasn’t on the top of my list. Any you know what… Facebook, blogs and review sites came up with where the restaurant was… again… not once did Yellow Pages come up… Even watching the video; it didn’t twig to me that I had to go to Yellow pages.

    Funny – if the web wasn’t social – this campaign would have been really successful. I only realised when the tweets were going mad about the place that it was linked to Yellow Pages.

  2. LachyW says:

    Hey Rachel,

    Thanks for checking out my piece over on Anthill 🙂 Glad you like it and found value in it (well, I think you did…)

    Reading your post, I’ve got to say, you’re very optimistic. Which is a really good thing.

    The campaign is indeed a cracker. But, in my opinion, it’s for the wrong client.

    Also, just a word or two on the SEO aspect… the terms “hidden pizza” and “hidden pizza restaurant” are what you would call ‘long-tail’ search terms. These are the opposite of popular search terms and to put it really simply, there is next to no competition for them.

    “McMissy” is also a long-tail search term. Have you Googled it? You rank 5th. Pipped only by Facebook, Twitter (your Twitter by the way), MySpace and some other random site.

    So, I wouldn’t give too much kudos to YP for that one.


    • mcMissy says:

      Hi Lachy,

      Yes, I did like your piece in Anthill and I think you did well to pull it altogether so quickly, no-one else has done the same so your piece is the bible at the moment.

      And yes, I have noticed mcMissy does alright in Google – very good point. So the question is, did the marketers choose Hidden Pizza for this very reason and so incorporated this into their strategy or is it just a happy co-incidence? I have to admit I’m a novice at SEO, so thanks for the ‘long-tail’ tip.


  3. LachyW says:

    Well, the campaign is really from Clemenger, not YP. i.e. it is Clemenger for YP.

    Agency people are very creative. They proved that thoroughly with the restaurant itself. Think of all the campaigns out there. How many of them have generic themes or titles (this is the nature of popular search terms)? None, it’s not how they role and it wouldn’t be interesting anyway.

    My point is, no, I really don’t think they started with “the campaign name, and hence restaurant name, needs to be SEO friendly”. It’s just the nature of good creative that they do something interesting and unique and hence when it comes to the web presence, you’ve got a website that will rank almost certainly #1 in a specific search.


    • mcMissy says:

      Hi Lachy,
      Just so I’m not confused here, am I right in thinking that the possible target audience for this campaign (put broadly) are potential Clemenger clients?

  4. LachyW says:

    Don’t throw in your towel of optimism so easily!


  5. Steve@Sensis says:

    Hey Rachel – really enjoyed your piece when I read it a few weeks back. Unfortunately couldn’t say much about it then but happy to join in now.

    Your comment about Yellow Pages working to give small businesses a comprehensive presence is on the money. Print, online, mobile, voice, online maps and more. And trying to give them a presence in Google and other search engine results through our SEO work and agreements to take them into Google Maps etc is a big part of that.

    Paul and Lachy at Anthill have been kind enough to give us some space to tell our story on their site. Of course we’re paying them back with a little extra site traffic. You might be interested – http://anthillonline.com/yellow-pages-responds-to-hidden-pizza-campaign-critics/.

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