Pizza Patrón describes its latest menu item as its spiciest pizza ever. It will have both pepperoni and jalapeño peppers, but some people say the name itself scorches the ears and falls outside the bounds of good taste.
"To be honest with you, I think we are being censored," said Edgar Padilla at Pizza Patrón's Ross Avenue location in Dallas on Wednesday. Padilla is the corporate marketing manager for Pizza Patrón.
The name in question is Spanish slang that some consider a curse word or offensive, but Padilla said it's not offensive to the company's target demographic — Mexicans who are living in the United States.
He came up with the name and helped create the concept for the pizza’s marketing campaign.
“When you use this word, you are basically saying that something is really, really cool,” Padilla said.
Spanish language radio stations balked at airing ads in fear of FCC fines, so the word was bleeped out. Even then, Padilla said some stations might decide not to air them.
Pizza Patrón is based in Dallas, but also has restaurants in other Texas cities.
A few of the restaurant’s franchisees won't use the name or ad campaign. Responses on Facebook run the gamut — sometimes based on country of origin.
“I come from a different culture,” said media marketing expert Lillian Romero. “I’m Dominican background, so to me it is a little bit offensive, but I’m not their target market.”
Romero worked for many years at Univision before branching out on her own to start her own company, which will be a social media network for Hispanic women called Comadre. She said when it comes to targeting their demographic and generating buzz, Pizza Patrón hits the bull's-eye.
“It’s not something that is appropriate for the overall Hispanic market, but for them it means 'cool,' and if it gets people in the door and sells them some pizza, then by all means,” she said.
For now, Pizza Patrón is eating up the free publicity.