Canadian Pizza Magazine

Battling the barbecue

Laura Aiken   

Features In the Kitchen Tools of the Trade

The battle of the barbecue has begun, and with it, a season of pizza promotions complemented or inspired by its very foe.


The battle of the barbecue has begun, and with it, a season of pizza promotions complemented or inspired by its very foe.

Pizza Pizza (Ontario) and Pizza 73 (Alberta), who together create
Canada’s largest take-out and delivery pizza chain, is launching new
products alongside new ideas to mix pizza into the backyard barbecue. A
barbecue chicken and barbecue steak pizza are being packaged with
barbecue wings, all to create that barbecue environment, says Pat
Finelli, chief marketing officer for Pizza Pizza. A marketing campaign
will also focus on suggesting that pizzas work well as appetizers, cut
into smaller slices, served before your backyard grill party.

“Three to four years ago the big thing was the health craze, now it’s deals and specials and packages,” he says.


Pizza Pizza looks at new marketing concepts quarterly, with the
barbecue summer season being a quarter that they change their approach
to yearly after gauging customer feedback, says Finelli. This year,
with the economic slowdown, will be particularly testing.

“This year is going to be a challenge. You’ve got to try your best.
Keep your market share and keep your traffic up,” says Finelli, who
puts Pizza Pizza’s market share at 50 per cent in Ontario and 30 per
cent in Alberta through Pizza 73.

Rain or sun can definitely be a factor in the summer pizza business.
Finelli says that since they’ve renovated restaurants to be brighter
and air conditioned, they’ve become more conducive to walk in traffic
which has made up for lost delivery business in the summer.

“Ten years ago, with small primarily delivery stores, weather was a big
factor for sure. Pick up and take out is very strong now.”

The Topper’s chain, which has over 30 locations in Ontario, opts for an
annual promotion at the same time every year geared at battling the
barbecue, says Keith Toppazzini, president of Topper’s. Their ‘Step
away from the grill’ campaign promotes their Bacon Double Cheeseburger

“It’s always a successful campaign,” he says. “It plays into the
familiarity of what people are already thinking…We always like to
work with what people are familiar with because people are comfortable
with what they know. We have recipes for breakfast pizzas, but we don’t
sell them.”

For Topper’s, Toppazzini says a colder, rainier summer would definitely
promote more sales, as they won’t be competing as often with the
barbecue. “We’re anticipating and hoping that sales will continue in
the same pattern this year. Having a loyal following and reputation is
key. People make choices and they will continue to eat pizza.”

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