Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cardboard Marketing

I’ve just come back from a terrific Christmas holiday in New Zealand. My family and I drove all over the North Island, the less glamorous and more practical sister to the South Island.

Our final night was in windy Wellington and the family voted me as official pizza collection and delivery guy.

I had noticed a Pizza shop near our hotel. Or rather I had noticed a woman leaving the shop carrying a huge pizza box. The really massive ones they have in American movies and sitcoms. The ones big enough for the whole cast of Friends to munch on. The giant box had stuck in my head. I’d never seen one so big in real life.

I found the store pretty easily. It was called Wholly Pizza and specialized in thin crust, simple topping, large New York style pizzas. I chose a modest 14 inch size, rather than the 20 inch New York-size. And as it baked, I chatted with the owner, an ex-marketer of all things.

When it was ready my new friend slipped the 14 inch pizza into the giant 20 inch box. We only have one size of box, he told me. Strange, I thought.

So I made my way back to the hotel … in the wind … with a 20 inch pizza box. Of course it flapped around a bit. And being 20 inches wide I had to step out on the road just to get around groups of people on the footpath.

Every time I did someone would comment. Did I have enough to eat? Did I need a hand eating all that pizza? And so on.
Then, when I arrived at the hotel lift, a party of four was just ahead of me. Again with the jokes. ‘You’ll need a whole lift for that baby’. Although this turned out to be no joke. I had to let them go ahead without me. There was just not enough room for them, me and my gigantic pizza box.

As I entered the hotel room my wife and kids were surprised by the big box and I had to explain that there was a smaller pizza within.

We ate it and it was delicious.

But as I chewed I started thinking about the marketing implications of what just happened. In the space of a few minutes three or four groups of people (other than me the purchaser) had been touched by the Wholly Pizza brand. And I had originally gone there because I saw someone else with a big box.

Clever marketing communication is nearly always about ‘zigging’ when others ’zag’. But your zag doesn’t have to be complex or expensive or high tech. It can be as simple as a piece of folded cardboard.