The Chi of Hidden Pizza

We asked Wayne Aspland, group manager of corporate positioning at Sensis, to share some further thoughts on the Yellow Pages Hidden Pizza campaign in Australia.  The campaign has attracted a fair amount of attention in the media and among bloggers, prompting discussion about how Yellow Pages advertising works in tandem with social media.  Wayne elaborates on some of the points raised in this guest post.

Call me a violent thug, but one of my favourite films is Stephen Chow’s beautifully farcical 2005 epic Kung Fu Hustle.

In it, The Beast, who is the world’s (as it turns out, second) greatest kung fu master – and a thoroughly nasty chap – dishes out the beating of all beatings to our hero, Sing. In fact, he pulps Sing so badly that he inadvertently releases Sing’s chi flow and turns him from a street beggar cum wannabe gangster to ‘The One’ – a kung fu master capable of feats that would bring tears even to Chuck Norris’ eyes.

And that’s saying something when you consider how tough Chuck Norris is (check out if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

In other words, in attacking Sing, The Beast actually helped him.

In a roundabout (okay, very roundabout) way, Sensis’ recent Hidden Pizza campaign has sparked a not dissimilar joust in the local search industry.

Last week, YPA’s Stephanie Hobbs used a Search Engine Land article to explain how many Yellow Pages companies (including Sensis) are focused on providing integrated solutions to advertisers at a time of fragmentation in media consumption.

The theory goes that by giving companies the ability to advertise not just in Yellow Pages print but in online, voice, mobile and in other sites like search engines – all in the one bundle – you help them get searched for in more places, more easily.

Along the way, Stephanie’s article referenced Sensis’ recent ‘Hidden Pizza’ campaign as an example of how Yellow Pages continues to deliver considerable advertiser value.

And that’s where the fun begins.

You see, there’s been a bit of disquiet about this campaign in certain sectors of the digital industry.

As a spin off of this, Stephanie copped a bit of flak for her Hidden Pizza mention.

And that’s fair enough. We’re all adults here (even if we do love whacky kung fu films).

But what I find priceless about these particular attacks is that in trying to discredit Hidden Pizza, they actually did a beautiful job of proving Stephanie’s core point. That:

“a multi-platform approach makes the most sense for local business advertising—it realizes the benefits and opportunities available across all forms of media, whether they’re in print, online or on mobile.”

On the one hand, the critics of Hidden Pizza claim that by restricting the contact details to Yellow Pages, you’ll get a high percentage of Yellow Pages responses.

But, on the other, they show graphically how word of the campaign did, in fact, get out.

The end result being a pizza restaurant with whopping great queues of hungry patrons, 70% of whom came from Yellow Pages and the rest from social media and other sources.

To me, the conclusion is pretty plain. Yellow Pages works – both as a powerful advertising medium in its own right and as a part of the broader media landscape as well.

People today are searching for local businesses in Yellow Pages print, online and mobile as well as other media. So the prime position for businesses is to be searchable across as many of those channels as possible.

Which is precisely what Stephanie is advocating and precisely what the Yellow Pages industry is working to deliver.

Thanks for your criticism guys. We appreciate your support.

One Response to “The Chi of Hidden Pizza”

  1. Ed Kohler says:

    If the goal was to get people into a new restaurant by offering free pizza, clearly, putting the address and/or phone number on the Facebook page and web site would achieve the same or better results in terms of patrons served.

    How many people figured out that they had to go to a print YP and decided it wasn’t worth the effort (even for free pizza)?

    It seems like the challenge here is to convince businesses that they need to put a lot of weight on services YP companies sell, rather than using things like their own website, Twitter, Facebook, or Foursquare to build direct relationships with customers. I understand that YP companies do offer some interactive services today that may cover some of this, but the risk is that it’s not all that difficult to do (and free).

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