Pizza Patron, a Dallas-based takeout chain with 102 establishments, has launched a campaign that has sparked controversy because it encourages the public to place their orders in Spanish.
Pizza Patron is hoping to spur heavy demand as a result of the "Ordena en español y llevate gratis una pizza grande de pepperoni" (Order in Spanish and get a large pepperoni pizza free) campaign, which will run from 5:00-8:00 p.m. on June 5.
But despite the fact that the campaign ads explicitly state how to order a pizza in Spanish using the phrase "Pizza, por favor" (Pizza, please), for some of those who are not Spanish-speakers, the promotion appears to be politically incorrect, USA Today reported.
"It seems to punish people who can't speak Spanish, and I resent that," Peter Thomas, chairman of the Conservative Caucus, told the daily. "In public areas, people should be speaking English, and that includes pizza parlors."
The controversy led the spokesperson for the National Council of La Raza, Lisa Navarrete, to address the matter, saying: "For people to get offended or upset at this seems a little bit silly. It doesn't preclude anybody. Anyone can say, 'por favor.'"
Consumers have come out both in favor of and against the campaign in the local media in Texas.
Among commenters on the USA Today Web site are people who say that now that they have to speak Spanish they don't want anything from Pizza Patron, while others, including English-speakers, have expressed their support for the offer and deny that the campaign is discriminatory in any way.
The owner of several Pizza Patron franchises in Houston, Jose Miguel Dominguez, said that the word "pizza" is the same in all languages and that the only different thing that has to be said to qualify for the free pizza is "por favor," and he offered to teach customers how to say the Spanish phrase meaning "please."
Pizza Patron describes itself as the leading Latino pizza chain in the United States.
This campaign is one of three the company will launch this year to call attention to the brand and to penetrate unexplored Hispanic markets as part of its goal in 2014 to open 50 new stores.
The campaign's brand director, Andrew Gamm, told a television station that Pizza Patron is interested in using the campaign to attract attention to the force for positive change that immigrants have meant to their communities all over the country.
Around 70 percent of Pizza Patron's customers are Hispanic and the majority of the chain's stores are located in areas with heavy concentrations of Latinos. EFE