Pizza Patron’s Free Deal for Spanish Orders Raises Eyebrows

Bruce Horovitz, USA Today, May 22, 2012

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Pizza Patrón, a 104-unit, carry-out pizza chain headquartered in Dallas, is raising eyebrows both inside and outside the Latino community with a planned promotion to give away thousands of large pepperoni pizzas on the evening of June 5 to folks who order in Spanish.

It can be broken Spanish. It can be first-time Spanish. But it has to be Spanish.

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Critics of the free pizza promo are lashing out—including some in the Latino community.

“Maybe they thought it was a cute thing to do, but I think it’s discrimination,” says Marcela Gomez, president of Hispanic Marketing Group, a Latino marketing firm in Nashville. “As an advertising agency, I would never recommend this to my client.”

One conservative group doesn’t like it, either. “It seems to punish people who can’t speak Spanish, and I resent that,” says Peter Thomas, chairman of the Conservative Caucus, which advocates English as the nation’s spoken language. “In public areas, people should be speaking English, and that includes pizza parlors.”

But Andrew Gamm, brand director at Pizza Patrón, says it’s all about creating a buzz within the brand’s target market: Hispanics. He says 70% of its customer base is Spanish-speaking. “It makes perfect sense for us,” Gamm says. “We’re trying to make our bond with the Hispanic community stronger.”

But Pizza Patrón is no stranger to controversial promos. In 2007, it promoted that fact it would start accepting (and still does) Mexican pesos. {snip}

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Lisa Navarrete, spokeswoman for the advocacy group National Council of La Raza, says, “For people to get offended or upset at this seems a little bit silly. It doesn’t preclude anybody. Anyone can say, ‘por favor.’ ”

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