Pizza Patrón, the Dallas-based chain focused on serving the Hispanic consumer, has come to expect generating a large public reaction with its Spanish-language promotions — along with major lifts in sales and traffic — and its latest offer, “Pizza Por Favor,”  was no different.
The June 5 promotion offered a free large pepperoni pizza to any customer who ordered in Spanish. Pizza Patrón gave away 80,000 pizzas during the one-day promotion, including 50,000 during the three-hour window it advertised plus another 30,000 in free-pizza coupons given to people still waiting in line after supplies ran out and business hours closed.
The chain sold plenty of full-price pizza as well, brand director Andrew Gamm said in a statement, as 25 percent of Pizza Patrón’s locations broke weekly sales records the week before and the week of the promotion.
Redemptions of the offer far exceeded expectations, and lines for the promotion queued out the door for hours at many locations, Gamm added.
“Our plan was created to address a maximum of 30,000 pizzas, based on the capacity of our stores for any given three-hour period,” he said. “However, we underestimated the crowds, and many franchisees kept giving out free pizzas after the event hours.”
By crafting promotions speaking specifically to its core demographic of Hispanic consumers, Pizza Patrón has courted controversy and criticism from conservative groups. The Conservative Caucus, an organization that advocates for English as the official national language of the United States, criticized “Pizza Por Favor,” and on the day in May when the promotion was announced, somebody hacked into Pizza Patrón’s email servers.
The chain’s previous controversial campaign, a “cultural promotion” in January 2007 to accept Mexican pesos as payment for its pizza, spurred similar national criticism from some groups , as well as thousands of phone calls and emails, some of which contained death threats.
In a previous interview with Nation’s Restaurant News, Gamm said the national media coverage and the good will from the chain’s regular customers far outweighed any part of the controversy. That month, Pizza Patrón’s same-store sales rose 50 percent, and the brand accepted more than 1 million pesos, Gamm said. The chain’s same-store sales rose 34 percent for the first quarter of 2007.
Previously, Gamm had said Pizza Patrón also planned a new ad campaign for 2012 that would accentuate customers’ Hispanic heritage further, and toward the end of the year the brand is planning another promotion with its philanthropy partner, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“The [Pizza Por Favor] campaign achieved its goal of solidifying our unique position in the marketplace and strengthening our relationship with the Hispanic community,” Gamm said in his statement. “We are very proud of our Latino brand focus, and we remain unapologetic of our commitment to this community.”
Pizza Patrón has 104 company-owned and franchised restaurants in seven states, with more than 80 locations under development.