October 1, 2017 |

National Pizza Month — Let’s Do This!

By Denise Greer

Ways to celebrate National Pizza Month

It’s October and you know what that means — National Pizza Month. Pizzerias across the country celebrate the month-long tribute to America’s favorite food.

Fun fact: Did you know National Pizza Month was created by Pizza Today’s founder Gerry Durnell in 1984 to commemorate the first issue of the magazine? The U.S. Congress officially designated October as National Pizza Month in 1987.

Pizza Today goes big in October with the release of our coveted Hot 100 Independent Pizzerias. This year we added the largest gathering of pizzeria and Italian restaurant operators east of Las Vegas — Pizza and Pasta Northeast, at the Atlantic City Convention Center on October 17 and 18. Join 3,000 pizza and Italian restaurant professionals to exchange ideas, shop nearly 300 booths of pizzeria specific products and services, gain world-class instruction and compete for pizza or pasta titles. Come to the show for only $5 using promo code EBR15 when you register at pizzaandpastaexpo.com before the event.

Last month, we rolled out an online tool kit to help pizzeria operators mark the occasion and promote National Pizza Month campaigns in store, in your communities and on social networks. The kit has downloadable marketing assets, including the official National Pizza Month logo, social share images, customizable media releases, infographics and marketing ideas from around the country. Go to the Pizzeria Tool Kit: pizzatoday.com/national-pizza-month-october-2017-pizzeria-tool-kit/.

Let’s take a look at how four pizzerias approach National Pizza Month:

Hungry Howie’s Pizza

The Michigan-based chain has dedicated October to raising funds for the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBDF), donating over $2 million to date. In its ninth year, the Love, Hope & Pizza campaign donates a portion of every pizza sold at Hungry Howie’s nearly 550 locations in 21 states. Pizzas are served in light pink boxes emblazoned with NBCF’s logo. Campaign swag, like bracelets, bandanas and T-shirts, are available with proceeds going to the NBCF. Customers can also purchase donation paper pizza slices that hang in store.

To promote Love Hope & Pizza, the pizza chain focuses on a strong social media push with donations made for every like and Facebook interaction, as well as sharing “Stories of Strength” from cancer survivors. Other methods have included TV and print ads, billboards and in-store promotion.

Fong’s Pizza, Des Moines, Iowa

Giveaways have worked well for Fong’s. Owner Gwen Page says every day of the month a lucky diner wins a free meal. “This one is always fun because the guest doesn’t expect it and it truly makes their day,” she says. “We’ve received hugs, high fives and screams of joy when they find out their meal is free.”

She also runs a Facebook promotion prompting guests to share their favorite Fong’s memory for a drawing to win a free pizza party. “It’s a great way to engage with customers and also to become even more inspired to create special memories for our guests,” she says.

New this year, Fong’s will crown a Crab Rangoon Pizza champion. It’s the company’s signature pizza. Page says the staff encourages guests to keep their receipts with Crab Rangoon purchases to enter for a chance to win a small pizza each week for a year.

Campaigns are promoted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and some local publications. 

Woody’s Wood-Fired Pizza, Golden, Colorado

This year, owner Jon Bortles says Woody’s is raising the game from its past National Pizza Month social and in-house digital TV marketing with a contest, “Get Your Pizza-Da-Pie.” Ramping up to October, Woody’s asked its social media fans — as well as customers through other platforms — to submit their ideas for the next Woody’s Specialty Pie. Once Woody’s team selects the winner, their creation — named after them — will appear on the specialty menu. The winner will also receive a free lunch or dinner punch card for a year.

“With over 1,000 people eating here each day, we think the number of submissions could be substantial,” Bortles says. “Getting our customers involved in a dialogue, in a truly interactive capacity, is always when we have the most success in our campaigns. It will also be a great way to stay on top of the ever changing tastes of our guests. A win-win!” 

J.J. Dolans, Honolulu, Hawaii

J.J. Dolans hasn’t focused on National Pizza Month campaigns until this year, says Co-Owner J.J. Niebuhr. His team will put their spin on pizzas from around the world and country, picking the top pizzas from each state and country. Going a step further, each pizza will be paired with a specific beer.

There will be a charitable contribution tie-in, Niebuhr says. The campaign will be promoted online through Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, and with radio advertising.


Six More Ideas from Pizza Today Editors

  1. official national pizza month logoPizza History Night (sell a dinner for $X per person. During the event, tell your patrons about the history of pizza) ­—­­­ Jeremy White
  2. Original pricing from when the pizzeria opened if it’s a legacy pizzeria. — Mandy Detwiler
  3. Tie in other unique October observances, like National Disability Employment Awareness Month or even Friday the 13th and Halloween — Denise Greer
  4. Press Night (Invite local food writers, bloggers, etc. in for a free dinner during which you hit key talking points that differentiates your pizzeria … i.e. expand on whatever it is that makes you special and unique in your city, whether that be locally sourced ingredients, gluten-free, organic, beer in your dough, etc.) — White
  5. Partner with another pizzeria for a charity challenge. Whoever sells the most pizza wins a “trophy” or something until the next year. — Detwiler
  6. Offer a National Pizza Month one-of-kind offer to your loyalty club members. Think swag, secret menu item, etc. — Greer 

Explore 20 Ways to Celebrate National Pizza Month.

Denise Greer is associate editor of Pizza Today.