Free publicity.

I was intrigued by an article in last night’s Evening Standard which described how a local pizza restaurant turned four customers away because two of the party dared to order something other than pizza! Although the clients ordered from the menu they were told that at least three of them had to have pizza or they would have to leave.

My initial reaction was incredulity. How can any business be so ridiculous? Which of us can afford to dictate to our customers on a take it or leave it basis? Then I thought I smelt a rat!

The story went on to describe how the ladies had queued up for an hour to get a table in the ‘tiny 16 seater restaurant’.  It went into detail about the owner’s passion for pizza, more detail of what was on the menu and described how the restaurant was often so full people had to queue or leave their telephone numbers and wait in the nearby pub. The article took up half a page of the Standard and included photos of some of the ladies who had been turned away and the two chefs. Could this be a publicity stunt?

How much would a half page advertisement in the Evening Standard cost? I seem to recall paying £6,000 for a job advertisement over 20 years ago so it would be a lot. Much more than a 16 seater Ealing restaurant could afford. If this wasn’t a stunt the restaurant managed the incident extremely well. They positioned their business as an ‘in demand’ specialist pizza restaurant and even explained their no booking policy and how they dealt with customers waiting for a table.

Making the most of free publicity

The article, with a headline, ‘Order pizza or leave my restaurant’, will have been read by far more people than any advertisement. So whether this was a publicity stunt or just a well managed response to negative press coverage it will have been an effective way of raising awareness of Santa Maria Pizzeria on South Ealing Rd.

If you are close to Ealing and are interested in gaining publicity for your business then Carole Ann Rice will be sharing some tips at the Business Dinner Club at Lisa’s Restaurant, Pitshanger Lane on Tuesday 11th October. Booking is essential. For more details email Glenda.

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