Guerrilla Marketing Yellow Pages Down Under

by Chris Silver Smith

Or, “How to get the hipsters to use the yellow pages again – give them free pizza!”

Using free pizza to promote the Yellow Pages in Australia

A secret restaurant offering free pizza to any smart enough to find it is apparently a front organization for a guerrilla marketing campaign to promote the Yellow Pages down under. “Hidden Pizza” emerged via a website and some word-of-mouth-marketing, offering free pizza to anyone who can find it for the next two weeks.

Hidden Pizza - Yellow Pages Guerrilla Marketing Campaign

Catch is, they apparently want you to find it a certain way. According to their site’s “Find Us” page:

Finding the restaurant is easy, just look it up the way you would any other business from April 12 – April 25 and the pizzas are free.

The business apparently doesn’t have a Google Maps entry as of yet, but The Age reveals that the restaurant is part of a marketing campaign that’s likely on behalf of Sensis, Australia’s Yellow Pages company.

Kate, over at the Eating Melbourne blog says what I’m thinking:

Would you be any more likely to use Yellow Pages to look anything up, after using it to find the free pizza?

Is it a good example of using social media to reintroduce people to a forgotten service? Or is it just a really good example of using social media to give away free pizza?

I have to give Sensis some credit for this one — it is a hipper and more sophisticated promotional campaign than many I’ve seen. But, will this abbreviated sort of a scavenger hunt really stick with the demographic groups they’re targeting?

There’s a kind of mindset that some in the YP industry have along the lines of “the youngsters have just forgotten how great the yellow pages are, and if we just remind them, then they’ll be back for good!” I think the idea that contemporary consumer behavior trends is just an aberration continues to miss the point. In fact, some of the methods used in this ad campaign itself really highlight the changing consumer behavior. Not only were these consumers expected to go hunt into printed yellow pages to find this hidden restaurant, but they were expected to tell their friends and people were further expected to discover the whereabouts of the restaurant via online word-of-mouth through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.

Social media, websites and mobile phone apps are where younger demographics are looking-to in order to find business information. The Yellow Pages Association’s recent Burke/comScore study shows that 18-to-34 year-olds look to search engines far more than print yellow pages for product and service info.

The reasons for younger people going to online sources more are multiple. Online is fast, easy, more extensive, engaging, and cooler. Of course, Sensis and other print yellow pages companies know this, and this is exactly what this campaign was intending to address. The question is, will a hip, cool restaurant that can only be found via insider information be successful at re-engaging the younger generation? On the face of it, No.

If you could get those consumers to experience multiple instances where they can’t find what they seek online, and can only find it in print directories, maybe. But, that’s simply not going to happen. They’re going to revert after this promotion ends.

In fact, the guerrilla marketing experiment likely will further show that this approach disproves itself with those consumers. Not only did many of them likely hear about Hidden Pizza via their social media sources (reinforcing that they should look THERE to find businesses that interest them), but the business’s info is rapidly “outed” online, now appearing in services like Urbanspoon.

Okay, so I should also mention that the campaign was apparently intended to also increase usage of Australia’s online YP site, The Hidden Pizza listing also appears there as well. I think the strategists must’ve intended their listing page to NOT be indexed/findable in Google, however, because this page isn’t on the 1st page of search results for “Hidden Pizza, Fitzroy”, and they’re using a robots “NOARCHIVE” meta tag on the page.

Their dogged determination to make the restaurant unfindable via Google likely bites them a bit, since I see that some other people apparently took advantage of the situation and set up another Hidden Pizza website, apparently optimizing it much better to be found in some local keyword search queries. This is a case where avoiding making yourself findable online could be too clever for your own good!

In sum, I think the Hidden Pizza was a nice try and a clever concept, but I think it’ll prove ultimately ineffective and the planners involved should’ve  projected out the likely end results a bit better. If you want to do some truly effective guerrilla marketing on behalf of the print yellow pages, I think you’ll have to pull out all the stops. Try using an electromagnetic pulse on a city to knock out their power grid, cellphones and internet. Make sure you leave their landline phones operating! Then follow that up by making everyone’s plumbing suddenly back up. I promise, THAT will result in everyone scrambling about in pursuit of their print yellow pages books! 😉


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4 Responses to “Guerrilla Marketing Yellow Pages Down Under”

  1. […] a similar vein, the “Hidden Pizza” marketing campaign by Sensis yellow pages company in Australia used recycled material from their yellow pages billboard campaign to cover […]

  2. […] earlier critiqued the Hidden Pizza yellow pages campaign myself, finding it unlikely to change consumer behavior, and it may’ve actually pushed […]

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  4. […] campaign reminds me a lot of the Yellow Pages Hidden Pizza guerrilla marketing idea which I’ve also written about before. I think Hidden Pizza was […]