The Pepperoni Celebration Sale Using Visual Noise!!!!!!

Want to turn an $11,000 per week store into a $13,000 per week store?

  That's just what happened to Eureka Pizza after a successful sales promotion took sales to record high levels. When sales returned to normal the weekly sales average was $2,000 higher than before the promotion.

     Visual Noise is our name for inflatables and other outdoor devices that are design to attract attention. The excitement and word of mouth advertising that was created by this visual display was no less than amazing. The customers….the crew… everyone loved it..

     Last October, PMQ enlisted the support of four manufacturers of  attention getting marketing tools to see how they could be used to raise pizza sales at one pizza store in Joplin Missouri. What you are about to read is the anatomy of a successful pizza promotion and why we think it worked so well. If you decide to duplicate or borrow some ideas from this promotion we hope you'll write PMQ and tell us how it worked for you.

What happened to Sales!

     The PMQ Eureka Pizza Sales Event occurred on the week ending October 18th 1998. The Sales Event was Promoted as the Pepperoni Celebration sale and it easily set a new store sales record of just over $17,000. Using America's favorite topping as the subject of the promotion and having the event peak on the weekend just after the paycheck sensitive middle-of-the-month added some extra strength to the promotion. 

Why do this promotion?

     After a pizza store has been open for a while and at it has found a comfortable sales level things can become routine and eventually a pizza store can end up looking like the wallpaper you walk by everyday and never notice. How do you get customers to pay attention to a store after it has become old news? You could remodel your store for $75,000 and get a 15% sales boost without trying. Or you could do what the PMQ marketing crew did with Rolf Wilkin's Eureka Pizza in Joplin.

Recipe for Success
The Pepperoni Celebration Sale Using Visual Noise


1 Pepperoni Banner

2 Radio Remotes

1 Manager who is adequately prepared for a killer Friday Night rush.

2 Helium Pizza Balloons

1 Sky Dancer

1 Walk Around 8ft Pizza Chef (Or Pizza Slice)

1 Moving and Talking Robot Goldminer (or Cowboy)

Instructions for the Pepperoni Celebration Sale.

     The store selected to be the subject of our marketing experiment using visual noise was chosen because it had great visibility and some of the best traffic counts in Joplin. It was decided that the promotion would be about the one topping that most people can agree on. Pepperoni. It would be called the Pepperoni Celebration Sale. If this had been a new store we would have used the surefire “Grand Opening Sale” theme. However, with the store almost a year old and local perceptions fully formed we went with the “Pepperoni Celebration Sale” theme instead. The thinking behind this idea was that no matter how good we think we are, there will always be those who are not going to like our pizza. There will also be some who think they won't like our pizza. But the odds are that any given customer is likely to like Pepperoni on their pizza. Put Pepperoni on sale and you never know what's going to happen. (Don't worry! If they don't like Pepperoni, the offer is also good on any topping of their choice.)

     The promotion was designed to take full advantage of the normal weekend pizza business surge by timing the newspaper and radio advertising to peak on Thursday/Friday. Direct mail landed in home on Wednesday/ Thursday to affect the weekend dinner buying decision. After having layed out our ad theme and primed the market with our general advertising, we wanted to use the visual noise to create excitement and word of mouth advertising. To maximize the use of our marketing ingredients, this is what we did…..


1 Pepperoni Celebration Sale Banner:

     A banner was made with the title of our sale promotion. It was placed on the front of the building as an explanation for all of the visual noise that was being used by Eureka Pizza. During peak traffic hours the banner was taken to the curb and  held by store employees in view of  oncoming traffic. The idea of having a sale of any kind is to give the customer an excuse to join our party. The more unusual the name, the more likely they are to notice and and remember it.

2 Radio remotes.

     The two most popular local radio stations each did a radio remote broadcast from the site of Eureka Pizza. The first was during Friday Night Drive Time (4-6pm). The second was Saturday (11am-1pm) which is usually a good time for Saturday ratings and also helpful for lunch building. The goal of the remote was to give the impression to the listening public that there was a party going on at Eureka Pizza and to come by and join the celebration. It was also used as a forum to focus the listeners attention on some key long term ideas we wanted them to remember. Each on-air break was scripted to feature a selling point about Eureka pizza that we wanted Joplin to know about. When the big promotion would be over, we wanted the listeners to remember things like; “Eureka Pizza is open for lunch”. Eureka Pizza has some great Pizzas like the “Eureka” and the “Barefoot Sally”. We wanted Joplin to remember that Eureka Pizza is the only pizza store in town that makes their dough fresh daily right in the store. A written radio remote outline will prevent the radio crew from using your dollars to glorify their radio station instead of using the effort to peak interest in your pizza business.

1 Ready for anything Pizza Store Manager. Timothy Osgood.

     You are about to create a sales event that may exceed your normal operations capacity by 50%. So be ready! Get some extra Friday night workers. Talk to your crew about the sense of urgency that will be needed during this very special week in order to meet the customers higher than normal expectations. Since you will be drawing lots of attention to your store during the promotion you will be seeing lots of new faces as many brand new customers will be making an important long term decision about your pizza store and its service. The crew should be extra patient and willing to explain all of the details new customers may not know about your pizza shop. If your operations are going to break down, they will probably break down during the Friday Night rush. If you can get through Friday night without taking your phones off the hook…….you've  got it prepared!

1 Red  6' Helium Balloon

     The 6' Helium Balloon can be seen from blocks away.  It is the one thing that rises above the tree tops and is the first clue to approaching traffic that something special is up ahead. Depending on the wind and the proximity of power lines, this balloon can be let out to attract attention and create curiosity or it can be lowered just above the building where it tends to look bigger with the store as visual point of reference. The balloon takes about 1/2 of a standard tank of helium and needs to be recharged daily with a booster shot of helium. One tank of helium should keep a balloon flying high for about 1 week depending on the air temperature. Management of the balloon was minimal since it was tied to the roof for which the public did not have access. It was kept flying all week dispite some rain. The 6' balloon was provided by Johnny Muldar of Arizona Balloon Company. 800-791-1445. Cost of a new 6' balloon is $149. With the word “PIZZA” on balloon, cost is $239.

1 Sky Dancer

     It is impossible to ignore. Passersby have no choice. The Sky Dancer simply forces customers and traffic to pay attention. The Sky Dancer moves, grooves, dances and shakes, entertaining viewers with unpredictable lava-lamp-like movements.  It was created by inventor Drake Diamond (Tube Works) by using fan forced air through an ultra light material in ways that amaze. In January of 1998, Diamond's work was introduced to the world when it was featured in part of the SuperBowl Half Time Show.  The Sky Dancer air system and Superbowl Puff Boy figure seen here costs about $2300 and was provided by Joe Austin of Tube Works.  800-962-2556

8 Ft Walk-Around Pizza Character

     Standing next to our Pizza Chef is PMQutie Linda Green as she waves at traffic from near curbside. To the right is Rolf Wilkin, founder and CEO of the fast growing Eureka Pizza chain. For size reference. Rolf is 6' tall. When you are inside of the 8ft suite you can look out the peep hole and see waving hands and smiling faces. You'll hear car horns begging for a wave. No matter how rotten you might be, people will love you when you wear this suit. The giant inflatable character is nimble enough to shake hands, wave to traffic and give and receive hugs. It is amazing how easy this guy is to operate. He runs on rechargeable batteries that strap to your side. This operates a motor which blows air into the suit which keeps the suit  inflated and cool at the same time. The character seen above can be rented for $290 a day or if you want the complete system, it's around $3800. The new “Pizza Slice” Character is $4100. They can also customize one specifically for your store or theme. Promotional Character was contributed by Bryan Schneider of  Signs and Shapes 402-331-3181.

Life-size Talking Robot

     Eureka Pete was a celebrity in Joplin the week of the Pepperoni Celebration. That was the name we gave to the Characters Unlimited Robot that we used to entertain customers. He was an old timer gold miner who sat in the lobby of the Eureka Pizza and talked to customers while they were waiting for pizza. During most hours Eureka Pete would just sit there waving to customers, looking around as any  good robot would do. Every 4 minutes or so, a prerecorded message would go off and he would appear to remind customers about the Eureka Pizza Pepperoni Special.

     But at night….when the lobby was filled with customers…. That's when Eureka Pete would surprise customers with his real live nature. The robot was wired with a 2 way radio so that the robot operator could talk and listen to customer responses. In this way Eureka Pete could interact naturally with and delight customers. For example, one family walked into the lobby and Eureka Pete said , “Welcome to Eureka Pizza, come on in”. The family looked at each other and smiled as if the timing of his greeting was simply a well timed coincidence. But when Eureka continued to say that there was a special sale going on tonight only for Dallas Cowboy fans. The family changed it's expression to “You've got to be kidding me! I don't believe this! (The Father was wearing a Dallas Cowboy Jersey). There are so many ways to impress customers with this thing. Life size robotic character was provided by Olaf Stanton of Characters Unlimited. 800-489-1686.

     During the week at peak customer traffic times a Eureka Pizza lobby assistant  would be in the lobby to make sure customers were enjoying themselves. This public relations person would be sure every kid received a balloon and were offered the chance to get their picture taken sitting next to Eureka Pete. Welcoming and assisting customers was the other function of the lobby assistant.

     The PMQ Visual Noise Marketing experiment was an unquestionable success. The inflatables and the excitement they created directly translated into increased sales. To compare results it should be known that there were actually 2 Eureka Pizza stores in Joplin that were involved in the test.  Both stores received equal doses of radio and direct mail. But only one store was given the advantage of the visual noise treatment. The store that you have just read about had an increase in sales of 46% as compared to previous week The other Joplin store that did not receive the visual noise treatment had an increase of only 13%. That's impressive!

     PMQ plans on coordinating another Visual Noise Pizza Store Campaign using even more neat stuff that manufactures have given us to test. If you would like to be considered for our next experiment in pizza marketing….please let us know. 

     Caught in the act! Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. The friendly, cracking, whisky voice of Eureka Pete was provided by your PMQ editor and traveling pizza guy Steve Green.

     One variation of using the talking robot was to converse with customers inside the lobby as Eureka Pete while also wearing the Pizza Chef Inflatable Costume outdoors in front of the store. As the Pizza Chef outside the store, I welcomed one customer to the event and asked him his name. Then, when he went inside the lobby of the store he was startled when Eureka Pete recognized him by name.