I smell a trend, and it smells like greasy pepperoni: Pizza chains Domino's and Pizza Hut both put out announcements on Thursday concerning their new social-media publicity strategies. In other words, there are new ways to bring the habit of stuffing one's face with mediocre pizza into one's ever-increasingly digital lifestyle.
Pizza Hut, for one, will be giving away free orders of "Stuffed Pizza Rolls" (Did you just hear that little cry? It was my arteries screaming for mercy at the mere thought of this) on July 4 to its Facebook fans and Twitter followers via a promotional code. This is, the pizza chain has said, to commemorate the milestone of one million Facebook fans as well as the hiring of its official "Twintern," an intern whose official job is to maintain the @pizzahut Twitter account.
Domino's, meanwhile, has revved up its online ordering system so that if you order a pizza you can track it on Facebook and Twitter, among other things.
Critics already say we're hooked up to Facebook and Twitter as though they were feeding tubes, so I guess it's appropriate. But all in all, neither campaign is as clever as that time that Burger King promised a free Whopper to people who could prove that they had deleted ten people from their Facebook friends list. (Facebook got mad and disbanded the campaign.)
Let me be clear about this. I live in New York, where we are very serious about the quality of our pizza. In fact, in this city if you make gross pizza you pretty much have to give it away for free, and not just as part of a one-day Twitter gimmick. Case in point: Crocodile Lounge, a bar on East 14th St. where if you buy a beer, they give you a voucher for free pizza. That is the truth, assuming you can elbow your way past the inebriated frat boys in order to reach the pizza pickup station in the back of the bar. Trust me, nobody would eat that pizza if it weren't free.
So what I mean to say is that I appreciate good pizza, and I don't give a hoot if the ordering process is spiced up with Twitter coupons, Facebook Connect tracking updates, a Ustream feed in the kitchen where it's made, or GPS chips to track it on Google Latitude. Social media does not make your food taste better, and as I recall from the last time I had some, both Domino's and Pizza Hut could use a leg up in the quality department.
It's sort of like toppings. Piling sausage, mushrooms, peppers, and bacon on top of a crappy slice of plain pizza does not make it a good slice of pizza. But a great slice of no-frills tomato pie? Absolutely priceless.