Pizza Patrón’s Newest Pie Is NSFW

By Comments

Here’s a spicy pizza recipe: Take a large pie and put about 90 slices of jalapeño-stuffed pepperonis on top, then add another batch of freshly-diced peppers to the top. Here’s a spicy PR strategy: Name the resulting pizza “La Chingona.” 

That’s the dual-threat plan of Pizza Patron, the Dallas-based chain that has a knack for landing itself in the news as a result of its various marketing strategies. In the past, the chain made headlines for announcing that they would accept pesos—not an unreasonable decision for a chain that markets itself to a Latino customer base in border states—and for handing out free pies to anyone who placed an order in Spanish. (Their partnership with point-of-sale system Revel Systems last month, which made them the first pizza chain in the U.S. to accept Bitcoin payments, garnered less attention.)

This time, the risqué name of the pie appears to be a pretty delicious way to get some free advertising, mostly by stirring up controversy as radio stations refuse to air ads that use the pizza’s full name. MySA.com reports

Commercials for Pizza Patrón’s newest creation, “La Chingona,” which is a large pizza loaded with 90 jalapeño-stuffed pepperonis, has been refused or censored on radio stations around the state and country, including La Z and National Public Radio.

 […]

La Z, a Spanish radio station that broadcasts in San Antonio, is airing the commercial but bleeping the pizza’s name.

“(We) really don’t have bright lines as to what we can and can’t say so it becomes a local judgment call and we can certainly get fined if we err on the wrong side of the judgment,” Chase Rupe, the vice president of programming and operations at Emmis Communications, told KEYE-TV.

“La Chingona,” a slang term that translates roughly to “badass,” is perhaps an appropriate name for a pizza as spicy as the one the chain is marketing, but it’s also clear that they’re very deliberately attempting to provoke controversy with the name. As soon as radio stations began bleeping the name of the pie, the chain took to its Facebook page to ask (in both English and Spanish), “Pizza Patrón is censored for speaking Mexican—Is it offensive to be Mexican?” Subsequent posts on the page document the number of stories that the controversy has generated (we expect that this blog post will be up there shortly). 

There’s nothing inherently wrong with a company stirring up a bit of controversy as a PR strategy, at least not until it alienates customers and franchisees. Unfortunately, that appears to be a consequence of La Chingona. The Dallas Morning News reports that some franchisees are refusing to sell the pie at all

The brand director at Pizza Patron was more candid: Some of the franchise owners “hate” the name and have refused to sell the pizza, said Andrew Gamm, brand director at Pizza Patron. In fact, about 10 to 15 percent of the company’s 90 stores have elected not to sell the La Ch!#gona Pizza when it becomes available at other stores on March 31.

 Still, there’s probably more likely to be a net benefit to Pizza Patron as a result of their La Chingona PR marketing strategy than a loss. At the very least, in a crowded market for fast, cheap pizza, they reminded customers that they exist. That’s useful no matter what currency they’re paying in. 

(a previous version of this story identified Square, not Revel Systems, as the POS system that accepted Bitcoin payments.)

Related Content